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Men Who Are Making 

Editor "Forbes 9 Magazine 9 
Author "Finance, Business, and the Business of Life 1 

B. C. Forbes Publishing Co. 

Equitable Building 

New York 


Copyright, 1916-1917, h 





"How can I attain success?" 

That is what every rational human being wants to know. 

This book tells in an intimate way how fifty of America's foremost 
business and financial leaders of the present day have climbed the 
ladder of success. 

The selection of the fifty is based on the replies received from busi-' 
ness men all over the country to the question: "Who Are Our 
Fifty Foremost Business Men, Men Who Are Making America ?" 
In all but a few instances, based on geographical or exceptional cir- 
cumstances, the list represents those who were accorded the highest 
number of votes. Having been thus singled out as the most success- 
ful American business men now living they may be regarded as well 
qualified to speak illuminatingly and helpfully on the subject of 

Who are the fifty men thus honoured by the business world ? 

In what fields have they made their mark? 

Are they moderately young or are most of them elderly? 

How many of them are native Americans and how many were 
born in other parts of the world? 

Were their parents in a majority of instances poor, moderately 
circumstanced, or wealthy? 

The table on pages vi-vii furnishes a succinct reply to these questions. 

It will be seen that: 

24 were born poor. 

17 were born in moderate circumstances. 

9 were born rich. 
40 were born in the United States. 

4 were born in Scotland. 

4 were born in Germany. 
1 was born in England. 

I was born in Canada. 
14 began as store clerks. 

5 as bank clerks. 
4 as grocery boys. 

The compilation shatters the popular idea that most of the highest 
financial and business positions in the United States are held by 




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young men. Only four in the list are under fifty years of age. And 
only a few of the others at fifty would have won entrance into any 
such list as this. Not only is the average age sixty-one, but no fewer 
than twelve are seventy or more. 

There is encouragement in this fact for those earnest workers who 
have not yet reached places of conspicuous eminence. If the right 
kind of seed is being planted, the fruit may ripen by and by. Re- 
sults are not always attained in a hurry. 

Indeed, one great lesson the lives of these notable men convey is 
that patience, perseverance, stick-to-itiveness, and unflagging courage 
are essential qualities. 

Another point revealed by this analysis of the personnel of Amer- 
ica's ablest business leaders is that neither birth nor education, 
neither nationality nor religion, neither heredity nor environment are 
barriers — or passports — to success in this land of liberty and democ- 
racy. Worth alone counts. The only caste in America is merit. 

The humble origin of the majority of these "Men Who Are Making 
America" would call for more comment were it not so typical of the 
nation's annals. 

My study of the careers of these men has impressed me with this 
fact: Most of them had to pay the price of success. They worked 
harder and longer, they studied and planned more assiduously, they 
practised more self-denial and overcame more difficulties than those 
of us who have not risen so far. 

How can one achieve big things ? 

What are the necessary qualifications? 

What course must be followed? 

For a full answer to these questions the reader must turn to the 
character sketches. 

But I may remark, in a general way, that there would appear to 
be two sets, or classes, of qualities calculated to win success: 

First — Qualities within the reach of all. 

Second— Qualities attainable only by those favourably endowed 
by Nature. 

The first list of qualities, if wisely cultivated and exercised, may be 
depended upon to earn at least a moderate measure of success. 

But, as a rule, some of the qualities in the second category are 
requisite for the attainment of such exceptional success as has been 
achieved by many of the men whose records are outlined in this book. 

Among the qualities all may weave into the fabric of their character 
may be enumerated: Integrity, self-denial, sincerity, industry, 
sobriety, self-culture, cheerfulness, self-reliance, good temper, cour- 
age, stick-to-itiveness, confidence, concentration, steadfastness, loy- 
alty, ambition,, optimism, politeness. 


The rarer and higher qualities, not within reach of every brain, 
include: Foresight, statesmanship, generalship — ability to select, 
to lead, and to inspire other men; great mental and physical stamina; 
superior judgment, abnormal memory, willingness to incur large-scale 
risks adjudged capable of being turned to profitable account, per- 
sonal magnetism, dynamic force, imagination, commonsense. 

Says Shakespeare: 

" 'Tis not in mortals to command success; 
We will do more — deserve it." 

My observation and investigation have convinced me that nine 
times in ten success is won by those who deserve to win it. Dame 
Fortune is not so capricious as superficial indications sometimes would 
suggest: fame, responsibility, and (uninherited) wealth usually seek 
shoulders broad enough to bear them worthily. The little man can- 
not continue to fill a big place creditably. 

It is not always true that "What man has done, man can do." 
Not every man is so constituted that he could become a Rockefeller 
or an Edison. 

But, on the other hand, the character sketches here presented abun- 
dantly prove that in this land of opportunity no normal person need 
fail because of early handicaps of birth or environment. 

My main object in writing these brief biographies of notable doers 
is to inspire and assist the millions of ambitious, clean, forceful, dili- 
gent young men who are bending their energies, physical, mental, 
and moral, to make their way in the world, to become useful, construc- 
tive citizens, to leave behind them a worthy heritage. 

Let me meet possible misdirected criticism by explaining in the 
clearest terms that these character sketches are confined to financial 
and business men and do not include any of America's innumerable 
men of national and international eminence in statesmanship, science, 
education, art, literature, medicine, etc. Nor are there any railroad 
giants in this list, as it is my purpose to devote a separate volume to 

Objection may be raised that the dollar apparently has been used 
almost exclusively as the yardstick in measuring success. 

In the nature of things, the man who creates or builds up a mighty 
financial, industrial, mining, or commercial organization usually 
makes money, often a great deal of it. In business, profit is the re- 
ward of successful achievement. 

But the man who sets up money-making as his primary, his sole 
goal, who subverts everything to that end, seldom fulfils his narrow, 
Midas-like ambition. 

It is not money but the joy of achievement, the joy of creating, of 


developing something, that spurs on most men who become factors 
of the first importance in the business world. 

Providence would seem to have ordained that the man who serves 
most shall reap most. 

Success is coming to be spelt Service. 

The success that consists only of dollars is no longer accounted 
worth-while success. 

Unless the men in this volume (with few exceptions) had a higher 
title to recognition than the size of their bank accounts, they would 
not have been honoured by their fellow business men throughout the 
country as the finest specimens of "Men Who Are Making America. " 

Most of them have been instrumental in providing employment 
on a large scale and at wages sufficient to enable the workers to be- 
come self-respecting citizens, able to marry and to raise families in 
rational comfort. Without men of this calibre, without stalwarts 
capable of organizing and successfully conducting business enter- 
prises, no nation can long hold its place in the world. To become 
and remain prosperous and powerful a modern nation must have a 
thriving population and such foreign trade outlets as only brainy 
commercial and financial leaders of international vision can open up 
and conquer. 

The United States owes much to its idealists, to its dreamers, 
to its cloistered intellectuals, to those calm, reasoning souls who 
point to higher things and refuse to be engulfed in the maelstrom of 
materialism. But other peoples have achieved more in these philo- 
sophic realms. It is not our achievements in abstract thought that 
have won us a unique place among the nations. 

Our greatest distinction has been won by actions, not words, by 
deeds, not dreams, by concrete accomplishment, not airy theorizing. 
The world can match our statesmen and philosophers and poets and 
artists and composers and authors. 

But no nation can match our galaxy of doers, our giants of indus- 
try, transportation, commerce, finance, and invention. 

What other land could bracket names with such of our twentieth- 
century titans as Hill and Harriman; Morgan, Edison, Carnegie, Bell 
and Vail; Frick, Gary, Schwab and Farrell; Ford and Willys; Duke, 
Eastman, Rosenwald, Paterson, Keith and Woolworth; the McCor- 
micks, the Armours and Wilson; Goethals, Guggenheim, Hammond, 
Ryan and Nichols; to say nothing of our leaders in international 

Old World heroes too often have been destructionists. 

New World heroes are constructionists. 

It is my hope that these sketches, brief, fragmentary, and light 
though they necessarily are, will do something to modify the too- 


general impression that "Oh, the rich guys were lucky; we weren't. 
That's the only difference." I have tried to give in specific detail 
some of the difficulties encountered by these men and to explain 
exactly how they overcame them, for by so doing I believe something 
will be done to promote understanding between the less successful 
and the successful. 

So common throughout the volume is the story of early struggles 
sufficient to daunt and drive to despair the average human being 
that the sub-title might well be the motto of Kansas: "Ad astra per 
aspera" — Through difficulties to the stars. 

The extent of the interest aroused by the serial publication of the 
articles in Leslie's has been deeply gratifying; indeed, that periodi- 
cal stated editorially that no series ever printed by it in its long 
history had attracted so much attention and comment throughout 
the length and breadth of the country. 

So numerous have been the requests to issue the sketches in perma- 
nent form that I offer no apology for bringing forward this volume. 
It contains quite a few biographies never before written from authen- 
tic, original material owing to the aversion of the subjects to talking 
for publication; only the conviction that the telling of their life- 
stories frankly and fully might serve to hearten others induced these 
men to narrate their experiences. 

Were I not confident that the volume will have some inspirational 
value I would not have troubled to write it. The preparation of 
a series of real romances in financial and business, though of some 
current and perhaps historic interest, would not have justified the 
time, the labour, the patience, and the diplomacy which have been 
necessary to accomplish the task. It took from six months to a full 
year to induce more than one of the subjects to say one word about 
their careers. In a few cases, as will appear from the articles, there 
was no personal interview, so that the information in such instances — 
including, notably, Henry Ford and George F. Baker — must be 
accepted as second-hand. 

Wherever possible I have let the subjects tell their own stories 
in their own words. I know of no volume which enables the am- 
bitious young man to make the intimate acquaintance of so many of 
the nation's foremost men of affairs and to learn from their own lips 
the most useful wisdom their eventful experiences have taught them. 

Please pardon this too-lengthy introduction to them. 




JOGDEN ARMOUR is at heart as democratic as was his father 
and has larger vision. When Philip D. Armour died, sixteen 
• years ago, Armour & Co. did a business of $100,000,000 a 
year; now they do $500,000,000. And the brains, the active directing, 
head, the planner and architect and developer of Armour & Co., is 
J. Ogden Armour. He is not an ornamental figurehead, merely the 
son of a rich father, but one of America's ablest, most forceful creative 
business men. 

Since "J. O.," as his colleagues call him, took hold, auxiliary enter- 
prises have been built up doing in the aggregate more business than 
the packing house — the Armour Grain Company handles more grain 
than any other concern on the face of the earth; Armour has the second 
largest leather business in the world; he ranks among the foremost 
manufacturers of fertilizers; he controls more refrigerator and other 
special cars than any railroad system in the country. 

J. Odgen Armour is the largest merchant in Christendom or heathen- 

Also, he is the largest individual employer of workers — some 
40,000 of them; Armour & Co. has no stockholders; it is purely a 
family concern. 

Thanks to muckrakers, self-seeking government officials, and misled 
newspapers, I — doubtless in common with many others — had pic- 
tured Armour as an aristocrat too proud to mix with Chicago's Four 
Hundred, as an autocrat too overbearing to join other leading citizens 
in civic movements, as a mediocre business man but possessing sense 
enough to let brainier men run the organization bequeathed to him. 

How false were such conceptions! How unfair such judgments! 

I told Armour very frankly what my ideas about him had been — 
after I found out, by careful investigation, that they were all wrong. 
He laughed — and gave me straight-from-the-shoulder explanations. 

"I have no social ambitions," he said. "My ambition is to run 
Armour & Co. successfully and to give a great many young men a 


chance to make their way in the world. My associates in the business 
are my closest friends, my chums. If it weren't for the fun there is in 
working with them and being with them, I wouldn't — I couldn't — 
stay in business. Without sentiment, the work would be too hard." 

Years ago Mr. Armour was offered $130,000,000 for his company 
but unhesitatingly declined it. 

"What could I do with $130,000,000?" he remarked when I asked 
him about this incident, now revealed for the first time. 

The truth is that, instead of feeling too aristocratic to mingle with 
capital-S Society, Mr. Armour is too democratic. 

He mentioned sentiment in business. 

"Do you let sentiment enter into running your business?" I asked. 

"Enter into running it?" he repeated. "Why, I run it on senti- 
ment. If I didn't, it would not be successful — and it wouldn't be 
worth while running. What is it that makes an organization success- 
ful? Isn't it the loyalty and the enthusiasm of the many men en- 
gaged in it? And how can any man inspire these sentiments if he 
has no sentiment in his own make-up? No one man can run a big 
concern; he must depend upon others for the actual doing of almost 

"To get the right kind of men we begin early. We are more par- 
ticular about the hiring of office-boys than about any other thing 
connected with Armour & Co., for the office-boys of to-day will be- 
come our department managers to-morrow. We select them with that 
in view. We practically never go outside for a high-priced man. Just 
as the fellow who starts with the Pennsylvania Railroad as a brake- 
man may one day become president, so young men who start with us 
at the bottom can hope to rise to the top." 

Here let me digress. Mr. Armour happened to remark one day, 
in the hearing of a bright youth, that one of his greatest pleasures in 
life was developing young men. 

"Mr. Armour," spoke up the youth, "y° u need not look any fur- 
ther. You can start right here," pointing to himself. 

Mr. Armour did start right there. To-day the youth is vice- 
president of Armour & Co., Mr. Armour's right-hand man and most 
trusted associate, Robert J. Dunham, director in Chicago banking 
and business enterprises and having the income of a prince — all at 40! 

I walked through every department at Armour's and I believe the 
average age of the executive heads is under rather than over 40. 
When men grow old enough to enjoy a life of leisure they retire on 

Mr. Armour is 53 — past. I called him 54, as he was born in 1863, 
but he objected. 

"Don't make me worse than I am," he protested, smiling. "I 


never realized I was anything but a young fellow until one day I was 
late, for some reason or other, in reaching the stockyard. I used to 
get there by eight, but this morning it was half past. One office-boy, 
who didn't see me, looking up at the clock as I was passing, said to 
another: 'I wonder what's become of the old man this morning!' 
The 'old man /' It stabbed me." 

The world was accustomed to expect epigrams and all sorts of 
sage sayings from the original Armour. But nobody, so far as I know, 
has ever publicly attributed a like ability to the son. 

Well, he has it. Read, for example, these sentences, dropped by 
him in course of our very informal, heart-to-heart talk: 

"Business can no longer be done with a club but with a chemist — 
and a lawyer." 

"The most valuable ability of all is the ability to select men of 

"The richer and bigger you are, the more considerate you have to 
be of other people's feelings if you are to succeed in taking the curse 
off being rich." 

"The man who handles himself right is the man who puts himself 
on the level of the man he is with." 

"The world is a worse place for a young man with a lot of money 
than for one without any." 

"I have known a lot of men who were good men when they had no 
great amount of money but who let riches go to their head and make 
poor men of them." 

"I don't worry. Worry kills more people than ever hard work 

"There is luck in the world. There may be luck in getting a good 
job — but there's no luck in keeping it." 

Unlike some rich men's sons, J. Ogden Armour is a worker. For 
many years he was at the packing house by eight o'clock every busi- 
ness morning. He began at the bottom; pay, $8 a week. He learned 
the business in the stern school of experience — his intrepid father saw 
to that. And as "J. O." says in his well-written book, "The Packers 
and The People," the slaughtering, dressing, and packing of swine, 
cattle, and sheep is no parlour game. 

Later, when he became the directing head, he used to receive at 
his home, by seven o'clock every morning, detailed reports of the live- 
stock receipts at all the principal centres in the country and, after 
carefully analyzing the whole national and international situation, 
decide upon the general buying programme for the day. 

Let me relate another incident, one that Mr. Armour will be sur- 
prised to read in this article, for he does not know I ferreted out the 


Britain's declaration of war had stampeded financial America. 
The New York Stock Exchange was afraid to open the flood-gates. 
Virtually every other exchange in the land was closed. The banks 
were clamouring for emergency currency, clearing-house certificates, 
and other panic appurtenances. Savings banks suspended cash 

The bottom had fallen out of everything. 

No, not everything. The Chicago Board of Trade — the famous 
"Grain Pit" — remained open, was subjected to a terrific bombard- 
ment, but weathered the storm without one grain-trade failure. 

The newspapers carried black headlines telling how George E. 
Marcy, president of the Armour Grain Company, had heroically saved 
the day, first by fighting against the closing of the board, and then, 
when pandemonium broke loose and grain prices began to soar, by sell- 
ing first one million, then another million bushels of wheat at prices 
which prevented quotations from rising more than two to three cents 
a bushel — contrasted with opening skyrocketing to the extent of eight 
cents a bushel at Minneapolis. Marcy was proclaimed a hero. 

"Yes," admitted Mr. Marcy when I quizzed him about the events 
of that exciting day, "I did go into the market and sell two or three 
million bushels of grain to keep the market from running away — but 
I advised with Mr. Armour over the telephone early that morning 
and I did nothing but carry out his instructions." 

Mr. Marcy added this other bit of heretofore unwritten history: 

"Mr. Armour also told me to step in and take care of anybody who 
might need help. I replied: 'You are assuming a great risk. Some 
may fail/ Mr. Armour repeated: 'Go ahead and help any you can. 
Go to the banks with people who are good and arrange to have them 
tided over.' I did — and not a single failure occurred in the grain 
trade. This was, of course, Mr. Armour's idea, not mine." 

One writer, familiar with the facts rather than the fiction concern- 
ing the Armour family, has said: "J. Ogden Armour would be the 
last to acknowledge that he has outstripped his father as an originator, 
a creator, an economist, and a financier. But such is the fact." 

A prominent Chicago business man told me: "'J. 0/ has quadru- 
pled the business that his father built up. 'P. D.' was not so opti- 
mistic, not so farseeing, not so ready to dare as his son. The son has 
gone beyond what his father would have approved in branching out. 
He has done it because of his extraordinary belief in the development 
of this country. 'J. 0.' himself has said, 'The country has grown 
up to help me out of the hole when I seemed to have planned too far 

The present Mr. Armour would subscribe to no such analysis, for 
few sons have so much reverence for a father. 


Mr. Armour's modesty, indeed, is chiefly responsible for his having 
been misunderstood by a majority of the people. He shuns inter- 
viewers — "I had hoped to dodge you," he frankly told me when I 
waylaid him; "I told Dunham to steer you off." 

You never read of Mr. Armour appearing in public and making a 
speech. "Because I happened to be born a rich man, I don't feel 
that that entitles me to foist my views on other people," he explained. 
"My father once said to me: 'You have to take the curse off being a 
rich man/ I have tried in my own way not to aggravate the offence 
of being a rich man or a rich man's son." 

On civic and other committees formed to deal with important prob- 
lems Mr. Armour often does much real work, but always outside 
the range of the limelight. 

Society doesn't appeal to him. He divides his time between his 
business and his home, presided over by his wife, formerly Miss Lolita 
Sheldon. He is intensely fond of his only child, a daughter of about 
21, who, it may be recalled, was a cripple until Mr. Armour brought 
over the famous Dr. Lorenz of Vienna, who operated upon her suc- 
cessfully and whose services were placed by Mr. Armour at the dis- 
posal of other children in the country similarly afflicted, an offer of which 
boys and girls from as far off as the Pacific Coast availed themselves. 

The affection existing between Mr. Armour and his mother is 
beautiful. No matter how pressing business affairs may be, he never 
allows her to leave Chicago without him, and he insists also upon jour- 
neying to wherever she may be visiting to accompany her home. It 
was of this estimable lady that the late Philip D. Armour said, "My 
culture is mostly in my wife's name." From Belle Ogden — his 
mother's maiden name— J. Ogden has inherited his unassuming 

Mr. Armour has no false pride concerning the humble origin and 
early struggles of his father. He recounted to me how his father, 
when only 19, set off from his home in the village of Stockbridge, 
N. Y., in company with three other men, determined to walk all the 
way to California to make their fortunes in the then new gold fields — 
this was in 1 851. One of the four died, two others turned back, but 
Philip Armour tramped on and reached the coast in six months! 
His first job was digging ditches at $5 a day and $10 a night — and 
oftener than once he worked day and night. By and by he took con- 
tracts to dig ditches and in five years had saved $8,000. With this 
fortune he returned with visions of marrying his village sweetheart 
and buying a farm, but, alas! she had married a worthy horse doctor. 

On his way home, Milwaukee impressed him as an ideal centre 
for doing business, since it caught the streams of traffic and people 
crossing and recrossing the continent. There young Armour, in 1859, 


formed a produce and commission business partnership with Fred 
B. Miles. Each contributed as capital the humble sum of $500 — the 
original partnership agreement now hangs in the son's office as one of 
his most cherished possessions. Smoked and pickled meats being in 
demand by travellers and others, young Armour later switched to that 
line, as junior partner of John Plankinton, the then largest packer in 
America. Then came the Civil War with its pressing calls for 
huge quantities of preserved meats and Plankinton & Armour 

Chicago having outstripped Milwaukee as a growing commercial 
centre after the war, Armour, with characteristic foresight, moved to 
that city in 1870 and, with two brothers, formed Armour & Co., the 
firm which to-day, without a single stockholder outside of the family, 
is doing a business, with its allied enterprises, approximating that 
done by the billion-dollar Steel Corporation. 

The founder died in 1901, after one of the most picturesque, inspir- 
ing, and successful careers in American history. His younger son, 
Philip D., Jr., died a year before his father. There were misgivings in 
certain quarters as to the ability of the elder son, J. Ogden, to fill 
his father's shoes. Indeed, Armour pere at one time pictured no 
Napoleonic career for Ogden — and the latter shared his father's judg- 
ment! But long before he died the father had the satisfaction of see- 
ing Ogden develop into a business man of the first calibre. As a 
matter of fact, "J. O." really ran the business quite some time before 
his father passed away, and he did it with a success that yielded the 
father the greatest happiness of his later years. 

"I thought I was the most fortunate young man in the world when 
I inherited a huge business and a good name," said Mr. Armour to me 
reminiscently. "But it was not long before I changed my views, for 
I had nothing but trouble, especially when the United States Govern- 
ment brought all sorts of grave charges against me and other packers. 
I felt that I had tried to run Armour & Co. honestly and fairly — and 
certainly I did not need to do dishonest things to make money. The 
indictments, nevertheless, caused me terrible humiliation and un- 
happiness. I had been proud of my father's name and record, and 
had tried sincerely to maintain both unsullied. The courts gave us 
a clean bill of health, but not before the American packing industry 
had been so vilified that country after country shut its doors against 
American-made products." 

Mr. Armour added : "The experience taught me that the rich man 
who chooses to enjoy his riches, without taking the responsibilities that 
ought to go along with them, is not much of a chap." 

Armour & Co. has handsomely made up the ground lost by the 
Government's attack upon the packing business. The firm's sales are 


fivefold what they were sixteen years ago and innumerable side lines 
have been successfully established. Read these figures: 

Armour & Co. to-day has 500 branches located in different coun- 

It has spent $3,500,000 on one foreign plant alone — in Argen- 
tina. It has offices and permanent representatives in forty foreign 
cities and countries. Its foreign business alone last year approxi- 
mated $100,000,000. It paid cash to American farmers to the 
amount of about $300,000,000 last year for live stock. 

Armour & Co. to-day handles no fewer than 3,000 distinct products 
— a transformation from the days when Plankinton & Armour sold 
nothing but meats. 

The Armour Grain Co., the largest in the world, has constructed in 
South Chicago an elevator holding 10,000,000 bushels, bringing the 
company's total elevator capacity up to 25,000,000 bushels. 

The Armour Grain Company's lumber sales run into millions of 
dollars every year, thousands of farmers finding it convenient to take 
home prepared lumber when they bring their grain to depots. 

During one recent month 14,000 visitors went through the Armour 
packing establishment in Chicago, where every single operation in 
the killing of live stock and the preparation of the products is wide 
open for inspection every day. 

Armour's profits last year averaged less than three cents on the 
dollar on its total business. 

Mr. Armour has served in every department both at the stock- 
yards and in the office. Before he had finished his full course at 
Yale Sheffield Scientific School he was called home by his father to 
get into harness. With fewer vacations than the average clerk en- 
joys, Mr. Armour has been in harness ever since, working hours which 
would scandalize trade-union leaders! . 

In showing me over the Armour Grain Company he took me to a 
room in which was a miniature flour mill and bakery where an expert 
analytical chemist receives a sample of every load of grain bought by 
the company, ascertains the percentage of moisture it contains, then 
grinds the sample into flour, analyzes the food values of the flour, then 
bakes it into bread so that customers can be supplied with exactly 
the kind and colour of grain or flour they desire. This scientific 
process enables the company to sell first those shipments which 
contain the largest percentage of moisture, thus saving hundreds of 
thousands of dollars every year, for the evaporation in some cases 
would mean one to two cents a bushel loss if the grain were not 
promptly marketed. This is doing business, "not with a club but 
with a chemist." 

I noticed that wherever we went Mr. Armour was continually 


addressing the employees by their names, revealing a real interest in the 
men. I took occasion to speak to numbers of the workers when Mr. 
Armour was not with me and I found they regarded him more as a 
colleague than as a boss; they felt that they were all working together, 
that they were working with rather than for him. I could believe Mr. 
Armour, therefore, when he said to me: "The best thing about my 
work is the loyalty of our people. There are such wonderful fellows 
all round about me. If it weren't for that, I would not give two 
cents for holding on to Armour & Co. The boys who run the business 
with me make the work a pleasure." 

One of the executives told me that he had never seen Mr. Armour 
so happy as when he visited a very wonderful farm — a scientifically 
conducted enterprise of great magnitude — owned by one of his 
employees. "Mr. Armour," he said, "was delighted to think there 
were people connected with the company earning and saving enough 
to own such an establishment." 

No space is left to tell adequately of the Armour family's benefac- 
tions. The original Armour spent several millions on the famous 
Armour Institute of Technology, which annually turns out hundreds 
of graduates so skilfully trained that corporations and institutions 
clamour to engage them the moment they are ready to start work. 
Several years ago the present Mr. Armour and his mother gave the 
institute an endowment fund of #1,500,000, while not long ago Mr. 
Armour gave another #500,000. The running of the institution costs 
Mr. Armour several thousand dollars every week. 

Incidentally, the institute came into being through a sermon 
preached in 1892 by the illustrious humanitarian, Dr. F. W. Gunsau- 
lus, on "What I Would Do If I had #1,000,000." Dr. Gunsaulus, 
as president of the institute, has been doing it ever since, Mr. 
Armour having given him not one million but several. 

At the stockyards nurses are kept to visit not only the homes of 
Armour employees who become sick but to unearth cases of need 
among other families, and these are given all necessary attention. 
"Within half an hour after we receive word in the winter time from 
one of our nurses that some family is without coal, a wagon is on the 
way to them," one of the employees at the stockyards told me with 
great pride. "That's the kind of a man Mr. Armour is." 

When the United States entered the European war Mr. Armour 
promptly urged that all dealings in foodstuffs should be taken under 
control by the Government, an unselfish attitude which caused 
chronic critics of all capitalists to soften their views. Mr. Armour's 
action has convincingly demonstrated that it is possible to be both a 
packer and a patriot. 



THE man with the hardest shell and the softest heart in 
Thus did one of the country's leading bankers describe 
George F. Baker, the closest associate of the late J. P. Morgan and 
to-day the most powerful national banker in Wall Street, the domi- 
nating director of more corporations than any other man in the United 
States and perhaps the third richest living American. 

I can personally testify to the hardness of Mr. Baker's shell. It is 
impenetrable. He affects absolute indifference to how he is regarded 
by his fellowmen. 

"It is none of the public's business what I do," he told me, just as 
he had told the Pujo Money Trust Committee when summoned to 
the witness stand at Washington, an attitude which the investigators 
forced him to abandon. 

Did every financier adopt the Baker attitude toward the public 
and toward public opinion there would be a revolution in this republic 
in twelve months. 

The free citizens of a democracy some years ago taught capitalists a 
lesson. The younger generation have learned it. They realize that 
they cannot show contempt for the hundred million human beings, 
of as good flesh and blood as themselves, who make up this common- 
wealth. The idea that presidents of banks handling the public's 
money, that directors of corporations whose stock is held by thou- 
sands of public investors, that overlords of semi-public enterprises can 
snap their fingers at the public's will, has been pretty well drummed 
out of the heads of most men. George F. Baker, however, is the 
dean of the old school, the school of secrecy, the school that for a long 
time did not have to reckon with the power of public opinion. 

Many of those who voted on the question: "Who Are Our Fifty 
Greatest Business Men, Men Who Are Making America?" accom- 
panied their ballots with letters. One important publisher sent me 
this comment: "You will notice that I have not included in my list 
George F. Baker; I regard him as nothing but a money-making ma- 

That is the general impression of Mr. Baker among those not in a 
position to peer under his mask, who know him only by his works, who 
never hear of him doing a single generous act, but see him only as the 



power behind many financial, industrial, and railroad thrones, rolling 
up a gigantic fortune and so conducting the First National Bank of 
New York that, by the aid of its stockholding adjunct, the First Se- 
curity Company, it pours into the pockets of its stockholders dividends 
of from 50 to 70 per cent, or more a year. 

"The profits of Mr. Baker's bank make the rest of us look like rank 
novices at banking," declared one prominent banker the other day. 

Mr. Baker was the first New York banker to conceive the idea of 
doing things forbidden under the National Bank Act by means of a 
separate enterprise whose ownership in reality was and is identical 
with that of the bank itself, each share of the bank simply carrying 
with it a share in the "other" enterprise. One could not be sold 
without the other. The invention has proved highly profitable. 

The career of no prominent American is more of a sealed book than 
that of George F. Baker. I tried repeatedly to learn something of 
his early career from both professional and social friends, but all 
in vain. 

"I have met Mr. Baker many times socially, both at his dinner 
table and my own, but I could not tell you anything more about his 
history than a total stranger," one veteran remarked. "He never 
made any dinner party; I mean he never was the life of any little social 
function — but he was the next best thing: he was an excellent listener. 
He said little, but listened a lot." 

When I sought to impress upon him that, for his descendants' 
sake, if not for his own, he should throw off his business shell and give 
to the public a heart-to-heart talk about his life's work, all he would 
say was: "Some day the public will understand the truth." I am 
recording these things because they give the only picture I can pro- 
cure of him. 

Yet those who know Mr. Baker intimately declare that he is the 
fairest of men, that the public are mistaken in thinking he is interested 
only in adding to a fortune of perhaps #150,000,000 to $200,000,000, 
that he has a charming personality beneath the taciturn exterior he 
shows to the masses, and that, though he had only one philanthropic 
deed recorded in his favour — a #50,000 gift to Cornell College — until 
he gave #1,000,000 to the Red Cross, he is given to doing little char- 
itable acts. 

Speaking of this #50,000 gift, I have been told a touching story. I 
record it because it is the only sidelight of the kind I have been able 
to obtain regarding Mr. Baker. 

A friend made a remark to Mr. Baker about how gratifying it must 
be for him to note how well the newspapers had received his kindly act. 

Mr. Baker shook his head sadly. "It comes too late," he re- 
marked with a far-away look. 


The friend realized that something was on the old gentleman's mind. 
So he waited. Mr. Baker then recalled an incident which his friend 
had witnessed several years before. Just after the 1907 panic had 
been brought under control, Mr. Baker arrived slightly late at a 
largely attended meeting at the Union League Club. In inner circles 
it was well known that Mr. Baker had rendered yeoman service 
during the storm, and his appearance was greeted with applause 
which swelled into resounding volume as he walked across the floor 
to his seat. 

"I could not get home quick enough that night to tell her about it," 
remarked Mr. Baker very sadly. 

His wife had died in the interval. 

The part played by Mr. Baker during the 1907 upheaval was delved 
into by the Pujo counsel, Samuel Untermyer, in 191 3, with this 

Question. — Is not Mr. Morgan recognized as the great general in this finan- 
cial army down in Wall Street? 

Mr. Baker. — That is according to who is talking. When we talk about 
him, as his friends, we think he is. 

Q. — Is he not generally so recognized? 

Mr. Baker. — I think so. 

Q. — And you and Mr. Stillman are recognized as his chief lieutenants? 

Mr. Baker. — I do not think so; no, sir. 

Q. — Who are his chief lieutenants? 

Mr. Baker. — I do not know. The members of his firm. 

Q. — Try to overcome your modesty, Mr. Baker. 

Mr. Baker. — During the panic I think Mr. Stillman and I were. 

Q. — You will confess that that is what happened during the panic — Mr. 
Morgan was the general and you and Mr. Stillman were his lieutenants ? 
- Mr. Baker. — Yes. 

Q. — In your judgment is Mr. Morgan the most dominant power in the 
financial world to-day, far above everything else? 

Mr. Baker. — He would be if he were younger in years. I do not know his 

Q. — There is nobody as much so except yourself, is there? 

Mr. Baker. — And yourself. Get us both in. 

Q. — How is that, Mr. Baker, seriously? 

Mr. Baker. — There is no particular dominant power. 

Q. — When did there cease to be a dominant power? 

Mr. Baker. — When activities ceased; during the panic it was so. 

How George F. Baker rose to be so great a power, how he moved 
up the ladder step by step, cannot be told. His early career is more 
mysterious than the Sphinx — and Mr. Baker is as silent about it as 
the Sphinx. When I asked him for a few facts about his early career, 
he not only refused to furnish any information, but, when I suggested 
that I might obtain the necessary data from the person presumably 


in the best position to know, he replied: "He knows nothing about it." 
It was even so, for this man confessed to me that he had never dared 
ask any questions on the subject. I next approached a friend who has 
been intimate with Mr. Baker for a generation, but he held up his 
hands and exclaimed: "The Almighty could not draw a word out of 
Baker about his early days. I would gladly tell you if I could, but I 
don't know, and it is no use asking him." 

When I turned to "Who's Who in America" in the hope of getting 
some enlightenment on the subject, this was what I discovered: 

"Baker, George Fisher, banker; born, Troy, N. Y., Mar. 27, 1840. 
Chairman Board First National Bank of New York, Jan., 1909 — 

That was as far back as this publication had been able to penetrate, 
to 1909. Just what he had done during the previous 69 years, "Who's 
Who" was unable to record. 

There is a rumour, a legend, a story, call it what you will, that 
George F. Baker began life as a two-dollar-a-week grocery boy, that 
later he earned #5 a week as a night watchman, studied enough to 
qualify as a bank clerk and won promotion to the position of a bank 
examiner somewhere or other. The first authentic record available 
about his career is that he took a hand, along with John Thompson 
and the latter's two sons, in forming the first bank in New York under 
the National Bank Act, in 1863. Mr. Baker started as cashier, but in 
four years annexed the presidency. 

A veteran tells me that young Baker plunged on United States war 
bonds, loading the bank up to the gunwales with them. His nerve 
won the admiration of Secretary Chase, who saw to it that the First 
National Bank received every possible Government favour. It grew. 
To-day it has about as large deposits as the total held by the whole 
fifty-four banks then operated in New York City. 

A little folder sent to the bank's stockholders to commemorate the 
fortieth anniversary of the founding of the institution contains these 

" From the beginning the First National Bank sought the business 
of banks and bankers and became the redemption agent and deposi- 
tory for a large number of out-of-town national banks. It took an 
active part in the negotiation of War Loans, thus employing a large 
part of its deposits during the first years of business, the results of 
which amply rewarded the management for their confidence in the 
credit of the Government. The bank from the start took a leading 
position among dealers in United States securities, for itself and as 
representative of the several refunding syndicates, in financing the 
various United States loans issued by successive administrations. 
During the year 1879 the bank handled #780,000,000 United States 


Government bonds, completing their receipt and delivery without 
error or loss/* 

Mr. Baker was a member of the Liberty Loan Committee of the 
present year (1917) and his bank distinguished itself by subscribing 
for more bonds than any other institution in the country. 

The First National's total original capital was #200,000. How 
small a matter a few hundred thousand dollars later became to Mr. 
Baker may be gathered from the fact that when asked by the Pujo 
probers if he held any interest in the Guaranty Trust Company, 
he said he did not think he had or, if he had any, it was so small he 
did not remember anything about it. His " small" holding, it was 
brought out, was worth between #700,000 and $800,000! Another 
item of his fortune amounting to almost #500,000 he forgot entirely, 
so small was it in his eyes. 

Financiers declare that it has been Baker's brains that have made 
the First National Bank a veritable gold mine — indeed, something 
better than a gold mine, for gold mines wear out, whereas Baker's 
bank, still humbly furnished as in days of old, waxes more profitable 
with age, last year's (1916) dividends totalling 60 per cent., or 
#6,000,000, irrespective of the millions paid by its alter ego, the 
Security Company. The bank has paid between 2,500 and 3,000 per 
cent, altogether, including a dividend of 1,900 per cent, at one clip! 

It was in 1901 that a special dividend of #9,500,000 was declared 
for the purpose of raising the capital to #10,000,000. Of the total 
100,000 shares, Mr. Baker owns 20,000, his son 5,050 and, Morgan & 
Company 4,500. 

In 1908 dividends of 126 per cent, were declared, 100 per cent, of 
this going to start the First Security Company, which took over secur- 
ities which the Comptroller of the Currency had ruled the bank could 
not legally carry. Mr. Baker also turned into it some holdings he had 
acquired "in the interest of the bank." The stockholders of the 
Security Company have no voting rights whatsoever; the thing is 
run entirely by trustees who are officers of the bank. This organiza- 
tion can speculate all it wants, although Mr. Baker told the Pujo 
probers that its stock transactions did not average more than 100 
shares a day. 

Some of the securities which Mr. Baker put into this pot were 
50,000 shares of the Chase National Bank, 5,400 of the National Bank 
ot Commerce, 2,500 of the Bankers' Trust Company, 928 of the 
Liberty National Bank, 500 shares of the First National Bank of 
Minneapolis, and smaller amounts of the New York Trust Company, 
the Astor Trust Company, the Brooklyn Trust Company, etc. 

Mr. Baker's sphere of influence extended not only to these institu- 
tions, but he became a power in the Guaranty Trust Company, in the 


Mutual Life Insurance Company, with its hundreds of millions of 
assets, to say nothing of a long string of railroads, including the 
Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Central of New Jersey, Reading, Erie, 
Rock Island, Southern Railway, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, 
New York Central and New Haven. After his friend Morgan or- 
ganized the United States Steel Corporation, Baker became a member 
of its Finance Committee. Few other industrial corporations worth 
bothering about were overlooked by him or, rather, few of them 
overlooked him, for he was sought as a director by most of them. 
One of his railroad co-directors tells me that Mr. Baker's knowledge 
and memory concerning the physical as well as financial condition 
of properties were astounding. He never missed inspection trips. 

Quizzed about his mile-long list of directorships, and his voting 
trusteeships, Mr. Baker could supply very little enlightenment ofF- 
hand. Next day, however, he reverted to the subject thus: 

Mr. Baker. — You presented me before the public as such a great director 
man, more than I realized myself, that I would just like to interject here that 
I never have become a director or a voting trustee from solicitation of my 
own; it has all come to me. 

Q. — Do you know how many you have? 

Mr. Baker. — I know I have too many. 

Q. — Do you know how mapy ? 

Mr. Baker. — No. 

Q. — Have you got twenty-five? 

Mr. Baker. — I guess so. 

Q. — Have you got fifty? 

Mr. Baker. — I do not know. I have never counted them up. 

Mr. Baker was as ignorant, or indifferent, about his dividends as 
he was about his directorships, as this illuminating page from the 
record brings out: 

Q. — Up to the time the Chase Bank's capital was increased to #5,000,000, 
which you say was about four years ago, what dividend did it pay? 
Mr. Baker. — I do not remember. 

Q. — What, with an ownership of 23,000 shares, you cannot tell us that? 
Mr.\Baker. — Oh, I could by looking back, but I do not happen to remember. 

Morgan, it will be recalled, enunciated the famous dictum that in 
his eyes character was more important than collateral in granting a 
loan. Mr. Baker when examined on this point first corroborated 
Morgan's theory but then recanted, in this wise: 

Q. — What is the test of a Stock Exchange loan? 

Mr. Baker. — Oh, it is as much who the borrower is as anything. . . . 
Possibly the loans are made on the security more than the borrower. 


Q. — As a matter of fact, does not the bank look to the security and not to 
the borrower? 

Mr. Baker. — Generally. We would not accept applications for loans from 
some parties. 

Q. — There are some people who could not get money from your bank even 
if they had any amount of collateral? 

Mr. Baker. — Yes, sir. 

It was natural that the Money Trust investigators should turn the 
searchlight upon the First Security Company. At one point the 
committee's lawyer asked Mr. Baker: 

"Did you consider the organizing of the First Security Company 
a mere evasion of the Bank Act?" 

Mr. Baker replied, "No." 

This subsidiary immediately began to pay dividends ranging from 
12 to 17 per cent, and in the first four years of its existence accumu- 
lated a surplus of 40 per cent. It has waxed richer since. 

"There is no question that you control the First National Bank 
in its management and affairs?" asked Mr. Untermyer. 

"I would not like to be so conceited as to say that." 

Q. — Nobody has disputed your control? 

Mr. Baker. — No, sir, and I haven't disputed anybody else's control. 
Q. — Well, who else has undertaken to control the bank? 
Mr. Baker. — Nobody, and nobody has undertaken to control it at all. 
Q. — I understand; it controls itself? 

Mr. Baker. — Practically. We are a very harmonious family, I am happy 
to say, and we can't get up any quarrels. 

Q. — Well, on the basis of 226 per cent, in a few years, it ought to be. 

It developed that Mr. Baker bought control of the Chase Bank 
with a view to amalgamating it with the First National, but it became 
strong enough to stand on its own legs, so the merger did not go 

Since then Mr. Baker has resigned from several directorates, but is 
still on more than twoscore boards, representing a total capitalization 
running into the billions. 

Although in his 78th year, he is as fleet-footed, as clear-eyed, as 
straight-backed, and as energetic as most men of 60. During his 
busy business life he found little time for sports of any kind, and it 
was not until he was 70 that he swung his first golf cluh. Then he 
got the golfing fever and has since spent many a day on the links. 
He would now give John D. Rockefeller a game tussle were these 
two gladiators to fight a match. At the same time as he began golf 
he smoked his first cigar, and has since revelled in that dissipation also. 

Even the rankest Socialist would not quarrel with Mr. Baker's 


mode of living. He has never indulged in offensive extravagances, 
never paraded unwonted luxuries, never flaunted his wealth in the 
face of people less wealthy than himself. His friends say that his 
domestic life was beautiful in its simplicity and harmony. 

Certainly his only son, George F. Baker, Jr., who is following in 
his father's footsteps at the First National Bank, is universally re- 
garded as a most worthy young man, a hard, intelligent worker, a 
clean-cut sportsman in the best sense of that term — he is Commodore 
of the New York Yacht Club — and rivalling his father in his unex- 
ceptionable domestic characteristics. In America's hour of need he 
stepped forth for national service, accepting, among other duties, 
the chairmanship of the Committee to Enroll Yachts for the U. S. 
Naval Reserve Forces. Later, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, 
he headed a Red Cross Commission to Italy, braving all the dangers 
of the submarine-infested Atlantic. 

George F. Baker's intimate friends talk admiringly, not to say 
lovingly, of him. They declare that he is not conscious of his tre- 
mendous financial influence, that he never attempts to lord it over 
other people, that he is actuated by the most patriotic motives in 
all his endeavours to develop America's financial, railroad, and in- 
dustrial activities. They emphasize his simple habits and tastes, 
his aversion to all that smacks of ostentation, and his inordinate dislike 
of coming to the front in anyway whatsoever. 

The Baker his friends portray is the very antithesis of the stony- 
hearted, money-making machine the public pictures him. Certainly 
there has never been the slightest suggestion of any financial dealings 
even remotely crooked on his part. 



WHEN Chester A. Arthur was serving his term as President of 
the United States, a young man walked down Broadway, 
New York, looking for a job. 

Thirty-three years later he took his seat at the head of the directors' 
table in the most famous business building on Broadway, as president 
of the greatest business organization in the world's history. 

"What was your first step toward success? What first elevated 
you above the rank and file? How did you get a foothold on the 
ladder of success?" I asked Alfred C. Bedford, recently elected 
president of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, the parent 
company of the whole Standard Oil organization. 

"When I got a position as an office-boy I was always on the alert 
to make myself useful. I often volunteered, after my own work was 
done, to count the cash for the cashier, to draw off balances for the 
bookkeeper, make up vouchers, carry the books to the safe, and do 
every little job I could see needed doing," replied Mr. Bedford. "I 
was soon assigned to do the running for an expert accountant who 
came to reorganize the whole system of accounts and bookkeeping. 
Instead of merely getting out vouchers and other papers that he called 
for, I asked to be allowed to count up columns of figures, compare vouch- 
ers, and do the statistical drudgery. In appreciation, the accountant 
began to teach me not only ordinary bookkeeping but the principles 
underlying accountancy and the fundamentals of recording and ana- 
lyzing business transactions. 

"I applied myself diligently to this work, studying at home at night, 
and it was not long before I graduated from office-boy to a position 
of greater responsibility than that of a routine bookkeeper. This 
first promotion I attribute to my willingness to do more than was 
expected of me and to the insight I then obtained into business 
methods. This gave me a grasp and a vision such as the average 
clerk in an office too often fails to cultivate because of his machine-like 
performance of his allotted tasks." 

The installation of A. C. Bedford as president of the Standard Oil 
Company marks the passing of the old and the advent of the new 
generation. John D. Rockefeller and his brother William Rocke- 
feller are the only survivors of the original band of brainy stal- 
warts who conceived and created the organization which was to en- 



compass the earth, bringing light into dark places, and now these 
veterans have no connection with the business. Gone are Rogers, 
Flagler, Payne, Pratt, McGee, Tilford, Worden, Brewster, and Arch- 
bold — all men of vision and force, enterprise and courage. 

In their stead are rising up a new race, a younger group, of whom 
A. C. Bedford, W. C. Teagle, F. W. Weller, H. C. Folger, H. L. Pratt, 
Dr. W.M. Burton, and W. S. Rheem are among the most conspicuous. 
This second generation has not yet demonstrated beyond doubt its 
fitness to rule over the industrial realms to which it has fallen heir. 

But it has made a promising start. New rulers have brought new 
rules. The old-time secrecy that beset 26 Broadway, engendering 
so much suspicion, irritation, and agitation, has been abolished. 

"I mean to keep my door wide open to every person having a 
legitimate call upon my attention, ,, was the revolutionary proclama- 
tion of Standard Oil's new president on taking office. Veteran news- 
paper men assigned to get particulars of Mr. Bedford's election, hav- 
ing in mind past experiences at No. 26, could scarce believe their 
eyes and senses when they were ushered into the presidential sanctum 
without more ado than if they were calling upon the executive of 
some corporation long converted to the principle of publicity. 

They found in A. C. Bedford a rational human being, a man of 
heart as well as head; open, frank, congenial, ready to discuss labour 
or any other problem incidental to the conduct of corporate business. 
Barred doors and sealed lips henceforth are to have no place through- 
out 26 Broadway. President Bedford is an apostle of the doctrine of 

Having himself travelled unaided every step of the way, from the 
valley of obscurity to the summit of success, I asked Mr. Bedford to 
tell some of the things he had learned during his journey, to give some 
suggestions or pointers for the guidance of other climbers. 

"Well," he began, "my advice to every young man would be this: 

"Do everything you are told — and do it with all your heart and 
strength — willingly, cheerfully, and enthusiastically — and then look 
around for more work to do. 

"Don't measure your work by hours, but by what it is possible 
for you to accomplish from the time you enter in the morning — and 
be early rather than late — until the place closes in the evening; and 
don't quit the moment the place officially closes if there is work still 
to be done. 

"Read and study and think along the lines of your business. 
Learn what it is all about, what service it contributes to making the 
world go round more comfortably and efficiently. Cultivate the 
habit of looking ahead, of acquiring as much foresight as possible. 
Have imagination and vision. 


"Then try to plan out your life, to map out a course; consider and 
calculate the steps necessary to carry you toward your goal; go for- 
ward step by step — and don't get your sequences mixed. Do one 
thing at a time. If your job at the moment is to keep books, master 
bookkeeping thoroughly and study the fundamentals of accountancy 
— don't merely keep your books mechanically. From accountancy 
go on to study finance, and this will help to open other doors. Or, if 
you start in a manufacturing department, first master that depart- 
ment and then learn all there is to be learned about other depart- 
ments. Thus will you become familiar with the whole process of 

"Your next step would be to learn the outlets and the uses for your 
manufacture — the market for your product. By studying what and 
how much your market will take or will not take you become a capable 
merchandise man. This double knowledge of manufacturing and 
merchandising qualifies you to fill an executive position and opens 
the way to rise to the very top, whereas the fellow who was content to 
jog along in a rut in one department will still be about where he 

"You think, then, Mr. Bedford, that almost every fellow has a 
chance?" I asked. 

"No, not a chance, not one chance, but many chances" he replied 
spiritedly. "Every fellow has chances coming his way constantly; 
it is not a question of having chances but of recognizing chances 
when they come. You sometimes hear a fellow say: 'I had a chance 
once but didn't take it/ Never mind the chance that is past; watch 
out for the next one and qualify to be able to seize it/' 

"You believe the young man of normal intelligence and abnormal 
diligence can usually make at least a moderate success of his life?" I 

"Yes — I have no patience with smart Alecks, with high-fliers, 
with brilliant young gentlemen who go up like sky-rockets, for they 
usually come down like sticks," he declared with emphasis. "Do 
the natural thing; do just what is reasonable whether you are dealing 
with an employer or a customer or a competitor or with labour. 
Avoid short cuts. 

"Success that is worth while is, after all, very largely a matter of 
plain, every-day morality combined with tremendous industry and a 
deserved reputation for integrity and for fairness toward the other 

Rather old-fashioned advice? Not much comfort in it, is there, 
for those who want to find some brand-new trick for lassoing success 
without working for it? Pretty much an endorsement of the eternal 
verities, of such matter-of-fact virtues as industry and honesty? 


The more I dig into the lives of successful men the more convinced 
I become that all have had to travel the same sort of hilly road, sweat- 
ing brow and brain, meeting and overcoming obstacles, but never 
losing sight of their lodestar no matter how great the provocation. 
The scale that weighs success and mediocrity, I verily believe, often- 
times is tipped by an extra ounce or two of energy, an additional hour 
or two of labour, an added yard or two of foresight. 

From the day he began work Alfred C. Bedford did not neglect 
the needful extra effort. He was fortunate in his up-bringing. His 
father, of English parentage, was for years the European representa- 
tive of an American watch company in London, England, though 
still retaining a home in Brooklyn. Alfred was educated first at 
Adelphi College, Brooklyn, and later at Lausanne, Switzerland, this 
place having been chosen because of the excellent linguistic and other 
advantages it offered. His mother, who is still alive at 84, a scholarly 
and intellectual woman, familiar with the best in art, music, literature, 
and history, spent much of her time supervising the studies of Alfred 
and a brother. 

"To my mother I owe my love for art and literature and the finer 
things of life," was the son's simple tribute. 

When nearing nineteen, Alfred, his European education finished, 
decided it was time he started work. He had no pronounced bent, 
no predilection for any special field. A friend offered him a place as 
stock boy in his department at the wholesale drygoods house of 
E. S. Jaffray and Company on Broadway. This was a chance to 
get on Broadway, so he took it. 

Alas! within forty-eight hours he realized that he had made a mis- 
take, that he had entered the wrong place. The whole environment 
repelled him. There were twenty other youths in the department, 
all being trained by its head, a high-grade, clean, large-hearted 
man who took a deep and active interest in helping youths to get 
on in life. But young Bedford could see no future here; every- 
thing seemed blocked ahead. Besides, ribbons did not appeal to his 

But he did not quit. Preparation for the fall trade necessitated 
continuous work from seven or eight in the morning till ten or eleven 
at night. Bedford did his share, shirking nothing. From junior 
stock boy he was rapidly promoted to be a full-fledged stock clerk and 
later was allowed to do some selling. 

"Distasteful and repugnant though handling ribbons was to me," 
remarked Mr. Bedford in recounting those early days, "I there 
learned the value of order and system, of inventory and proper keep- 
ing of stock and also of business discipline. The manager was a 
brilliant salesman, and we used to edge near to hear his talk when he 


was selling a bill of goods. His skill caused' us open-mouthed wonder. 
We regarded him as a genius." 

Then came a pause. I waited. 

" I also learned another lesson there," Mr. Bedford resumed. "Our 
most important customer was coming and we made extraordinary 
preparations to fascinate him with our display of goods. Everything 
in the department, from the oldest, stalest stuff to the newest, was 
brought out and arranged with consummate artistry. Even the 
dead numbers seemed to glow with beauty, so cleverly were they in- 
terspersed with the choicest and freshest creations. Well, the buyer 
came — and succumbed. In two days he bought everything the 
manager suggested. News of the coup rang through the whole house. 
Congratulations showered upon our department head. 

"Next season came — but not the buyer. He had found to his cost 
that in his purchases of the previous season there had been included 
a lot of old-fashioned, obsolete, unsalable stuff on which, of course, 
he lost money. It was whispered he would never buy another dollar's 
worth of merchandise from that department. 

"This incident burned certain truths into my mind. It taught me 
that it is fatal to palm off on a customer something he doesn't want, 
that you have to be as zealous about the welfare of your customer as 
about your own, that you must inspire and deserve his confidence 
by advising him frankly and faithfully what you believe will best 
suit his purposes and enable him to make a satisfactory profit. Once 
you establish such relations with a customer, you rivet him to 
you 'with hooks of steel/ Your business, run on these lines, will 

When a chance came to better himself by going with a flour firm, 
Alfred wrote his father for advice. In reply he was told to see his 
father's friend, Charles Pratt. After investigation, Mr. Pratt coun- 
selled that the concern was too small to offer large opportunities. 
Shortly afterward (in 1882) young Bedford was asked to call at 46 
Broadway, the offices of Charles Pratt and Company whose oil busi- 
ness was then in process of amalgamation with the Standard Oil 
Company. He secured a position. That was A. C. Bedford's initial 
connection with Standard Oil. 

His first order was to draw off a balance sheet from the books of a 
small subsidiary company. He had never kept books, and, struggle 
as he might, he couldn't reach a balance. The bookkeeper finally 
noticed that the newcomer was in trouble and looked the figures over. 
"Try putting the cash in and see if it won't balance," he remarked 
dryly. And of course it did. Bedford realized that he had a lot to 
learn — but he was determined to learn it. 

He needed determination to go on in this place, for the bookkeeper 


never tired of telling him what a terrible mistake he had made in coming 
to such an office, for he himself had been there for years and years 
but, though forty, was nothing more than a bookkeeper. "I would 
rather see any son of mine dead than starting in as you're doing," he 
told Bedford. 

Bedford, however, was made of different stuff. He had clearer 
eyes, a more virile imagination, a stiffer backbone. In the readjust- 
ment of the Pratt business the pessimistic bookkeeper was dropped 
and an expert accountant was called in, as already related. 

About this time Standard Oil was laying plans to extend its rami- 
fications to the Far East. One of its representatives was sending 
from India long letters describing conditions and prospects there, and 
when the stenographer made copies for the use of the directors, he 
entrusted Bedford with the reading of the proofs. This opened up a 
new vista. The possibilities of this business with which he had be- 
come connected fired his imagination. Here was something big 
enough for any man to tackle — vastly different from ribbons! 

The ability, the enthusiasm, the trustworthiness of his young 
friend won the fullest confidence of Mr. Pratt. Although at first 
nominally in the employ of the Bergen Point Chemical Company, 
Bedford gradually was given more and more responsible and confiden- 
tial duties by Mr. Pratt, not only in business, but in the philanthropic 
work which latterly claimed so much of that noble, public-spirited 
citizen's life. When C. M. Pratt, a son of the firm's founder, took 
charge, Mr. Bedford became his assistant. 

These were years of valuable training for the future president of 
Standard Oil. He became directly associated with the running of var- 
ious important concerns outside of oil, as the Pratts had large in- 
terests in numerous enterprises. Thus it came about that Mr. Bed- 
ford became treasurer of the Long Island Railroad, secretary of the 
Ohio River Railroad, a directing force in an electric light property in 
Portland, Oregon, in coal properties in West Virginia, in water pro- 
jects, in public utility enterprises and in railroad building. Every 
new activity, every additional experience, every fresh responsibility 
brought increased travelling, broader knowledge, and a constantly 
widening circle of friends in the world of affairs. 

All this time Mr. Bedford retained his connection with Standard 
Oil through its subsidiary, the Bergen Point Chemical Co., of which 
he had become manager. He had a conviction that some day this 
association might prove extremely valuable. And it did. 

One day in 1907, before the financial panic broke, H. H. Rogers 
came to Mr. Bedford and told him there would be an opportunity 
for him to join the Standard Oil directorate. The suggestion dum- 
founded him. 


"I don't see what use I could be on the board, for I'm not essen- 
tially an oil man," protested Mr. Bedford. 

"You have had a broad, practical, general business experience and 
that is what we want," Rogers explained in a tone of finality. "We 
think there is a place for a young man like you." 

Next day the newspapers received a three-line announcement that 
"Alfred C. Bedford was to-day elected a director of the Standard Oil 
Company of New Jersey." 

Mr. Bedford had broken all precedent. Never before had any but 
practical, dyed-in-the-wool oil experts been elected to the great 
Standard Oil board. Every man on it was a giant. Every name on 
that directorate was an epitome of important industrial history. 

The news of Mr. Bedford's elevation caused widespread comment. 
It was so revolutionary. It was so different from anything the staid, 
heavyweight Rockefeller board had ever done before. 

But Mr. Rogers and the Rockefellers and the others familiar with 
the facts knew what they were about. They knew they were making 
no mistake. Mr. Rogers had made it his special business to study 
the crop of new timber and he had had no difficulty in singling out 
Alfred Bedford as the most promising tree in the whole forest — 
Standard Oil then had some 60,000 employees. 

"It was an invaluable experience for me to rub shoulders with these 
men daily at such an eventful time," Mr. Bedford recently remarked. 
"I drank in the business and financial wisdom they had accumulated 
during several decades of activity in the handling of gigantic affairs. 
It was an inestimable privilege for a comparatively young man." 

Being the youngest director, whenever any important missions 
involving travel and fatigue had to be undertaken, Mr. Bedford was 
delegated to carry them out. England, Roumania, Italy, France, and 
Germany all claimed on-the-spot attention. He rapidly withdrew 
from outside interests and concentrated upon the producing, refining, 
transporting, and marketing of oil. 

When the Government instituted dissolution proceedings against 
the company in 1908, Mr. Bedford was one of those selected to look 
after the preparation of the data necessary for the defence. If he had 
not known the Standard Oil business in all its kinks and phases before 
then, he assuredly had opportunity to gather all the facts during the 
succeeding year or two. 

Dissolution was ordered in 191 1, the decree of the Supreme Court 
of the United States resulting in the splitting of the organization 
into thirty-two companies. Although Mr. Bedford disclaims any 
credit for the masterful manner in which this was done without dis- 
turbance to a great industry affecting the well-being of hundreds of 
thousands of citizens and practically every railroad and manufacturing 


industry as well as a great foreign commerce, and attributes the 
achievement to the efficiency of the organization and its personnel, 
it is not illogical to surmise that his training and executive ability 
had not a little to do with the phenomenal care with which the vast, 
complicated task was carried out in conformity with the decree of the 

All the veterans then retired from the board except John D. Arch- 
bold, who became president. Mr. Bedford, who had risen to the 
treasurership, was now promoted to the vice-presidency, and on the 
death of Mr. Archbold, he was elected to the presidency of the com- 
pany, on December 26, 1916. 

In newspaper interviews with Mr. Bedford, published on his elec- 
tion, these sentences occur: 

"The stormy period of business recrimination and reconstruction 
is past. A clear road is open to extend America's domestic and foreign 
trade along lines of fairness and benefit to all." 

" We shall have many difficulties to meet after the war that we did 
not experience before. Trade with other countries is a necessary 
means of expanding our commerce. Europe will be alive; so must we 
keep abreast of our opportunities." 

"A friend from Europe recently told our company: 'We're going 
to get after you oil people in America and we'll control the oil business 
of the world because we can go ahead without unnecessary interference 
from government or people.' If we are to succeed in world competi- 
tion after the war, the public, the government, and the press must 
adopt a fair and liberal attitude toward the men who are trying to do 
the business of the country." 

"We have always treated labour well. We have not furnished 
workmen's houses and free baths and that sort of thing, because we 
believe that the cities should do these things. Most of the men live 
in cities where they should have opportunities for proper living and 
entertainment as a right and not as gifts from employers. Adequate 
wages and independence to my mind are best for the workingman — 
and in general he will agree with this." 

I should add that the biggest thing Mr. Bedford has done in a busi- 
ness way has never been publicly commented upon, namely, his colos- 
sal development of natural gas resources, but that is another story. 

Of Mr. Bedford's non-business activities I cannot here speak at 
length. I can only mention that he has been a moving spirit in 
erecting in Brooklyn a #1,500,000 Y. M. C. A. building where 500 men 
live permanently — in reality, a huge temperance hotel as well as a 
religious, educational, and recreation centre. Much of his spare time 
is devoted to helpful work among the young. Recently Mr. Bedford 
was appointed by the International Y. M. C. A. as one of its War 


Work Committee. This body will organize a comprehensive plan 
for extending the work of the Y. M. C. A. in our Army and Navy 
during the present war. 

The highest possible tribute to Mr. Bedford's ability as a master 
of the oil industry was recently paid him by his selection, by the 
Council of National Defense, as Chairman of the Committee on 
Petroleum. This committee is made up of the most prominent oil 
men in the United States, and will look after the vitally important 
matter of conserving and effectively utilizing our supply of oil. 

Another high honour was paid Mr. Bedford recently by the 
United States Chamber of Commerce, in appointing him a member 
of the committee to which has been entrusted the very serious question 
of the regulation of the war pay rolls, that is, of wages to be paid during 
the continuance of the great struggle upon which we have entered. 
The necessity for wise action in this matter is so urgent that the 
United States Chamber of Commerce at Washington was called upon 
to make a canvass of the nation and to secure, from the most reliable 
sources of information, all the facts that would help to solve one of 
the grave problems of the war. 

Mr. Bedford believes that sound health makes for success — and 
also for a better manhood. So he doesn't neglect exercise and recrea- 
tion. He is a devotee of golf, rides a lot, has a country home at Glen 
Cove, Long Island, and enjoys outings with his family — he is married 
and has two sons. 

A wholesome man, is he not, to have at the helm of one of America's 
most far-reaching industrial organizations? 


NEXT to the reaping machine, which drove famine from the 
world, America's greatest gift to modern civilization has been 
the telephone. The name of its inventor, Dr. Alexander 
Graham Bell, will live down the ages after all but two or three present- 
day Americans have been forgotten. 

The world scoffed at the first telephone just as it scoffed at McCor- 
mick's first crude reaper, at Fulton's first steamship, at Field's first 
transatlantic cable-laying project, at Morse's first telegraph, at 
Goodyear's first rubber products, at Wright's first aeroplane, and at 
Edison's electric lighting experiments. 

Unlike most famous inventors, Dr. Bell did not spring from ob- 
scurity and poverty. His father was a scholar and scientist of note, 
and young Bell received a ripe education. But he did not escape the 
common fate of inventors and pioneers. His struggles with poverty 
came in early manhood instead of in boyhood. And they were strug- 
gles as trying and as protracted as fall to the lot of few men. At one 
time, while fighting to establish his ridiculed "toy" as an article of 
genuine use, he was reduced to the extremity of borrowing occasional 
half dollars for a meal, sharing this lot with his dynamic colleague, 
Theodore N. Vail. 

The world first learned of the telephone at the Centennial Exposi- 
tion at Philadelphia in 1876. On January 20 of that year a young 
college professor of Salem, Mass., Alexander Graham Bell, had exe- 
cuted specifications and a claim for an invention embodying an im- 
provement in telegraphy, which in reality was a telephone, and on 
February 14 his application for the American patent was filed at 

The first telephone message of which there is record was this: "Mr 
Watson, come here, I want you." It was sent on March 10, 1876, 
by the inventor from the top floor of a Boston boarding-house to a 
colleague, Thomas A. Watson, in a room below. Watson heard every 
word and rushed to apprise Bell of the fact. Almost forty years later, 
on January 25, 1915, Dr. Bell sent the same message to Mr. Watson, 
only this time Bell was in New York and Watson in San Francisco. 

I can give from Dr. Bell's own lips the story of the birth of the 
telephone, surely a narrative worthy of a place in history. 

"As a young, unknown man," said Dr. Bell, "I had been experi- 




meriting with a multiple telegraph apparatus and I went to Washing- 
ton to discuss with the venerable Professor Henry of Washington, a 
great authority on electricity, an idea I had conceived for transmitting 
speech by wires. He was so sympathetic and encouraging and ex- 
pressed such deep interest that I talked to him quite freely. He told 
me he thought I had the germ of a great invention. I told him, how- 
ever, that I had not the electrical knowledge necessary to bring it into 
existence. He replied, f Get it.' 

"I look back upon that as a crucial period in my life. I was en- 
couraged instead of discouraged. I felt then that my difficulty was 
my lack of knowledge about electricity, but I now realize that I would 
never have brought forth the telephone if I had known anything about 
electricity, for no electrician would have tried what I tried. 

"The advantage I had was that I had studied sound all my life and 
knew something of its nature, the shapes of the vibrations that pass 
through the air when you talk, and other facts about sound. I had 
to go to work, with the assistance of Mr. Watson, to learn about 
electricity by my own experiments. No electrician would have been 
foolish enough to attempt the ridiculous experiments we tried. " 

That was the very beginning of the telephone. Let Thomas A. 
Watson describe what preceded and what followed. 

"In 1874 I was working in a crude little workshop in Boston where 
inventors came to have all sorts of apparatus made. A young man 
came in one day, and although I had found all inventors enthusiastic, 
I soon saw that not one of them had the boundless enthusiasm and 
confidence of my new client. He wanted apparatus made which 
would use the law of sympathetic vibration to send eight or ten mes- 
sages simultaneously over a single wire. The scheme looked all right 
to me at first, but we couldn't get it to work. We kept on experiment- 
ing all winter — and it was a good thing we did not succeed at first, 
for if we had, the speaking telephone might never have emerged from 
Bell's brain. One evening Bell said to me: 'Watson, I want to tell you 
of another idea I have which will surprise you.' He then confided to 
me that he believed it would be possible to invent a simple contrivance 
to enable people to talk by telegraph. My nervous system never 
got a worse shock! On June 2, 1875, when we were hard at work on 
Bell's harmonic telegraph apparatus, I in one room trying to send 
messages and he in another receiving them, one of the transmitter 
springs stopped vibrating and Bell, hearing a strange sound, imme- 
diately yelled to me: 'What did you do there?' 

"There and then he realized that the sound he had heard over the 
wire was the first real sound ever carried by electricity to the ear of 
man. The speaking telephone was born at that moment. 

"Alexander Graham Bell grasped the momentous fact that the 


mechanism could transmit other sounds, voices, to the human ear. 
Bell at once gave me instructions to construct the first speaking tele- 
phone the world has ever seen. Next day I made a small instrument, 
but I confess I did not then realize what a tremendously important 
piece of work I was doing. By means of the little instrument we 
then made I could hear his voice over a wire and could almost get a 
word now and then — that was all. It was plain, however, that Bell 
was on the right track. It took ten months to invent apparatus 
which could transmit a complete intelligible sentence. 

"In October, 1876, the first long-distance telephone conversation 
was conducted, between Boston and Cambridge. We borrowed the 
use of the telegraph wire after work was finished for the day and at- 
tached our telephone instrument at either end. We could not get the 
thing to work at all. Finally, I discovered that another connection 
was interfering with us and when this was cut off I could hear Bell 
shouting: 'Ahoy, Watson, ahoy! what's the matter?' That marked 
the birth of long-distance telephony. 

"Almost forty years later Bell and I, by means of that first tele- 
phone instrument, spoke over 4,000 miles, he in New York and I in 
San Francisco." 

To-day the Bell system carries almost 30,000,000 messages every- 
day, has 10,000,000 subscribers, connected by 20,000,000 miles of 
wires, a billion dollars' worth of property, and employs 200,000 
workers. As an adjunct of military preparedness it has proved in- 
valuable in these latter historic, strenuous days. 

Alexander Graham Bell was the logical man to invent the tele- 
phone. The science of articulation and phonetics had no more 
illustrious exponent than his father, Alexander Melville Bell, lecturer 
on elocution in the University of Edinburgh, where the son was born 
on March 3, 1847. The elder Bell had devoted intense study to 
enable the deaf to speak by means of "visible speech" and was the 
author of a standard volume on this subject. Mr. Bell's grandfather, 
Alexander Bell, had also won national fame in the treatment of defec- 
tive utterance. Then his mother contributed her share to the lad's 
talents; she taught him music, particularly piano playing, and this 
enlarged his knowledge of the science of sound. 

The boy Bell had a healthy amount of mischief in him. His 
special chum was the son of a miller who, on catching the pair 
playing some prank one day, admonished them and ended by saying, 
"Now, boys, why don't you do something useful?" Bell meekly 
asked what, for example, they might do. The miller picked up a 
handful of wheat and replied: "If you could only take the husks 
off this wheat you would be of some help." Bell set his young brain 
to work and discovered that by diligently using a nail brush he could 


remove the husks. He next conceived the idea that the work might 
be done by putting the wheat into a rotating machine used in the mill 
and thrown around against brushes or something rough. The lad 
laid his scheme before the miller and it was adopted with complete 

A little later the fertile-brained Bell founded "The Society for the 
Promotion of Fine Arts Among Boys," in which every member was 
at least a "professor." The founder was Professor of Anatomy, and, 
aided by his father, gathered a collection of skeletons of small animals 
cleaned by himself, birds' eggs, plants, etc. The Society was pro- 
gressing famously, its "lectures," held in the Bell attic, being very 
well attended. A special treat was in store when Bell got hold of a 
dead sucking pig and, before a large and keenly interested audience, 
prepared to dissect the animal. 

"Professor" Bell, with a proud flourish, stuck a knife into the car- 
cass. Horrors! It emitted a groaning sound! A mad rush was 
made for the door, led by the terrified anatomist. After that the 
Society languished. 

The noise had been caused by the sudden escape of some air which 
had remained in the animal. 

The youthful experimenter was more successful and — much more 
entertaining — in trying to teach a very intelligent skye terrier how to 
talk. By a little aid in the manipulation of its lower jaw, the dog 
learned how to say "Ow ah 00, ga-ma-ma"- — "How are you, grand- 

After graduating, without any honours, from the Royal High 
School of Edinburgh, at fourteen, the boy lived for a year in London 
with his grandfather, who was his sole intimate associate and compan- 
ion. Here he devoted himself to studying the science of sound, be- 
came serious-minded and "old for his age." On returning home he so 
resented the curtailment of the freedom his grandparent had allowed 
him that, in league with his brother, he determined to run away to sea! 

"My clothes were packed and I had fixed the hour of my departure 
for Leith, where I expected to become a stowaway on a vessel," Mr. 
Bell relates. 

It was well for the world that he changed his mind at the last 
moment. Still bent on gaining independence, the youth, now six- 
teen, applied for a position as teacher in an Academy, at Elgin, Scot- 
land, and was allowed to go. His salary was £10 ($50) a year and 
board, with instruction in Latin and Greek to fit him for the Univer- 
sity. The discovery that several of his pupils were older than him- 
self did not frighten him ! 

Later he took a classical course in Edinburgh University and re- 
turned as resident master and teacher of elocution and music at 


Elgin Academy. When the Bell family removed to London Alexan- 
der Graham resumed study, first at University College and then at 
London University. 

Before he was twenty-one he had taught numbers of deaf-born 
children how to speak, and when his father left for a lecturing tour 
in America the son took up the parent's activities. He taught speech 
defectives, delivered lectures at schools and colleges, and generally 
looked after his father's practice. He was looked upon as a young 
man of extraordinary ability, as something more than the brilliant 
son of a brilliant father. 

Fate took a hand at this juncture in giving the young man's 
life an entirely new twist. Two of his brothers died from tuberculo- 
sis, and as a precautionary measure the Bell family, in 1870, crossed 
the Atlantic and settled near Brantford, Ontario. 

His fame as a teacher of the deaf won for him an appointment at 
Boston University as lecturer on vocal physiology, and Professor Bell 
removed to Boston in 1872 to devote his whole energy to his teaching 
and study of the science of speech in all its phases. It was while 
here that he became interested in multiple telegraphy and, as already 
related, in telephony. 

A man of less enthusiasm, less faith, less patience, would have given 
up the task long before even partial success was attained. To analyze 
scientifically the exact character of the vibrations caused in the air by 
the human voice was in itself no easy undertaking. He became con- 
vinced that in order to talk by electricity he must produce a variation 
in the intensity of the electric current identical with that caused by 
an equivalent vocal sound. In more understandable language, Bell 
concluded that he must invent a continuous instead of an intermittent 
current. Finally, he evolved an instrument which he felt justified in 
patenting, as already told, early in 1876 when he was only thirty 
years old. In the following year he went to Europe and delivered a 
series of lectures on his epochal invention. 

How completely Alexander Graham Bell then covered the ground 
with his invention may be gathered from the fact that not a single 
electric speaking telephone has been made from that day to this which 
is not based on the patent he then took out. 

The world owes the telephone, in a sense, to the deaf. It was the 
painstaking, lifetime efforts of three generations of Bells on behalf of 
children and men and women afflicted with deficiencies of speech that 
enabled Graham Bell to solve the problem of electric telephony, since 
the professional duties of his ancestors and of his own early years had 
led him to study every phase of the science of sound. 

Troubles, vexations, obstacles, opposition, disappointments came 
to Bell before honours and fame. His contrivance was ridiculed 


by the newspapers of Europe and America, and even technical jour- 
nals at first refused to regard it seriously. Capital was equally 

One man who had faith in his revolutionary device was Gardiner 
G. Hubbard, the inventor's father-in-law, a man of means and of 
business talent. He threw himself into the project enthusiastically 
and fought valiantly to introduce the telephone into practical use. 
Not only were Bell and Hubbard confronted with all the initial 
troubles incidental to designing and manufacturing the necessary 
instruments and paraphernalia, but they were attacked and embar- 
rassed at every turn by the all-powerful Western Union Telegraph 
Company, associated with which were some of the most powerful 
interests in the country. A young, unknown genius, Edison, was 
enlisted by this rival enterprise, and he invented a meritorious trans- 
mitter which enabled the Western Union to establish a competitive 
telephone service. 

Europe began to ring with Bell's fame, but his fortune did not keep 
step. Materials were expensive, customers were hard to drum up, 
and one or two of the early long-distance lines would not at first work 
satisfactorily. It was at this stage that Theodore N. Vail, a young 
man of boundless energy and irrepressible enthusiasm, consented to 
join Bell and Hubbard. He had as much faith in the worth of the 
telephone as its inventor himself had. He also had extraordinary 
foresight and brilliant business ability. 

Like most really great men, Alexander Graham Bell is modest, so 
modest that he never loses an opportunity to emphasize the part 
played by others in the development of the telephone. 

''Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the co- 
operation of many minds," he declares. "I may perhaps take credit 
for having blazed the trail for the others who have come after me, 
but when I look at the phenomenal developments of the telephone 
and at the great system that bears my name, I feel that the credit for 
these developments is due to others rather than to myself. Why, I 
do not even understand how it has been made possible to talk into a 
telephone at Washington and have a man on the Eiffel Tower in Paris 
hear what is said without wires having been employed, or how a man 
in Honolulu can overhear that conversation between this country and 

"When I look back upon the past, to the very beginning of the 
telephone, I can remember men whose names are hardly ever heard 
of in connection with the telephone, yet who, by their advice and their 
sympathy and their financial support, laid the very foundations for 
what we have to-day." 

The French Government awarded him the Volta prize of 50,000 


francs for his historic achievement and it was characteristic of Mr. 
Bell that he applied this money, with a substantial addition out of his 
own pocket, to founding the Volta Bureau in Washington "for the 
increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the deaf." Later he 
founded, at a cost of over #300,000, the American Association to 
Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf, and became its active 
president. To this notable work of brightening the lot of persons un- 
able to hear, he devoted himself wholeheartedly, even during periods 
when his labours might have been directed with greater pecuniary 
profit to business affairs. He became the author of "The Education 
of Deaf Children," "Memoirs on the Formation of a Deaf Variety of 
the Human Race," and "Lectures on the Mechanism of Speech." 

Romance has blended with Dr. Bell's interest in the deaf. In 1877 
he married Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, daughter of Gardiner Hubbard 
(a regent of the Smithsonian Institution), a young woman who had 
lost her hearing in infancy and had derived great benefit from Pro- 
fessor Bell's scientific research and teaching on this subject. 

Had Alexander Graham Bell never brought forth the telephone his 
other achievements would have won him distinction. He is the father 
of a wonderful little device, the telephone probe, for revealing pain- 
lessly the presence and the location of bullets in the human body. 
He had an important hand in the invention of the graphophone, 
jointly with C. A. Bell and S. Taintor. Scientists rate highly, also, 
Bell's achievements in connection with the induction balance. A 
generation ago he told the American Academy of Sciences all about 
his discovery of the photophone. Even before then the Royal So- 
ciety in London had been addressed by him on the action of light on 
selenium plates. 

Twenty-seven years ago Dr. Bell established a modest fund to 
promote the then novel project of aviation. By evolving the tetrahe- 
dral kite he succeeded in lifting and sustaining in the air upward of 
300 pounds, exclusive of the weight of the machine, a more substantial 
result than Benjamin Franklin's experiments with kites brought forth. 
Largely because of his undying international fame as inventor of the 
telephone, Bell's wonderful pioneer work in aviation and in other 
spheres of applied science has won him no universal recognition, 
although in scientific circles it is reckoned at its true value. 

There is a Farmer Bell as well as an Inventor Bell. Although his 
chief residence is in Washington, he spends a large part of each year 
on his extensive estate in Nova Scotia. Here, also, the scientist in 
him crops up, for he has applied science to the breeding of sheep. 
He knows more about sheep than a Scottish shepherd and has written 
as illuminatingly on these humble animals as on abstract and applied 


The patriarchal figure of Dr. Bell is one of the best known in Wash- 
ington, to whose intellectual life he has contributed immeasurably. 
His long white hair and ample beard, his striking forehead and his 
keen, kindly eyes at once attract attention, suggesting a man of dis- 

In his case it cannot be said that his attainments have not won him 
honour in his own country. He is a regent of the Smithsonian In- 
stitution, has been president of the National Geographic Society, 
president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and an 
honorary or active member of a long list of various scientific and 
philosophic bodies. He is an officer of the Legion of Honour, while 
his contributions to the advancement and enhancement of civilization 
have also won him innumerable medals and degrees from scientific 
societies and universities in all parts of the world. 

As Edwin Markham, the poet, so fitly expressed it on the occasion 
of the presentation to Dr. Bell of the New York Civic Forum "Medal 
of Honour for Distinguished Public Service" last March, the tele- 
phone, the child of Bell's brain — 

Dispels the distances, shrinks up the spaces, 
Brings back the voices and the vanished faces, 
Holds men together though the feet may roam, 
Makes of each land a little friendly home! 

The wires are everywhere, 
The tingling nerves of the air. 
Be-netting cities, speaking for all hearts, 
From floor to floor their whispered lightning darts. 
Looping the prairies, leaping hills and lakes, 
Over the world their whispered lightning shakes. 
They stitch the farms and link the battle-line: 
They tread the Alps and down the Congo twine; 
They throb among the Pyramids, and speak 
Where Fujiyama lifts her perfect peak. 

America may proudly claim as her own the two most illustrious 
electrical geniuses the world has produced — no, not claim them as 
her own, for Edison and Bell belong to the whole human race, since 
the whole human family are their grateful debtors. 


ANDREW CARNEGIE probably will leave the smallest for- 

AA tune of any modern American Croesus — perhaps nearly a 
-*■ -*- billion dollars less than John D. Rockefeller, a hundred mil- 
lions less than Frick, and less, too, than was left by Morgan, Hill, 
Harriman, the Harknesses, Russell Sage, Hetty Green, or John Jacob 

Carnegie has given away #325,000,000 and has, I am told, less than 
$30,000,000 left. 

Carnegie's original investment in steel-making was #250,000. In 
27 years he sold out the Carnegie Steel Company to Morgan's Steel 
Corporation for #300,000,000 in bonds, nearly #100,000,000 in pre- 
ferred stock and #90,000,000 common stock. Carnegie, canny Scot, took 
the bonds and left the stock for his forty partners, who owned about 
40 per cent, and Carnegie about 60 per cent, of the Carnegie Company. 

In his "Gospel of Wealth" he formulated this cardinal article of 
his faith: 

"The day is not far distant when the man who dies leaving behind 
him millions of available wealth, which were free for him to administer 
during life, will pass away ' unwept, unhonoured, and unsung/ no 
matter to what use he leaves the dross which he cannot take with him. 
Of such as these the public verdict will then be: 'The man who dies 
thus rich dies disgraced/ " 

Elsewhere he has recorded: "I would as soon leave to my son a 
curse as the almighty dollar." 

Carnegie has no son, only one daughter, born in 1897. She will 
not be one of the world's richest heiresses. 

Carnegie, relatively speaking, will die poor. He is now 82 and 

Modern history contains only one character comparable to Car- 
negie — John D. Rockefeller. Carnegie created "a new era," the era 
of stupendous philanthropy — no, not exactly a new era, for he had his 
prototype in the palmy days of Greece and of Rome, when rulers and 
wealthy nobles distributed largess with equally lavish hand. 

No American has been more extolled — and few more execrated. 
He has been invested with all the virtues of a saint — and condemned 
as a bloodstained tyrant and slave-driver. To him some have as- 
cribed wisdom, foresight, and ability not less than superhuman; 




others have portrayed him as a popinjay, the incarnation of smug self- 
satisfaction, the fortunate creature of circumstances, whose only claim 
to distinction he himself set down in the epitaph he composed for his 
tombstone — "Here lies one who knew how to get around him men 
who were cleverer than himself." 

He has been called both a capitalistic socialist and a czar who re- 
fused to countenance any man, even the brainiest, as his equal in the 
realm of business. 

Because he has no fixed religious belief, the epithet "atheist" has 
been hurled at him all through his career, yet he has given donations 
for 7,000 church organs — "Listening to music, particularly that of the 
organ, is a form of religious expression to him," declares an intimate. 

He has been accused of having quarrelled with and hoodwinked 
more of his associates than any other man in industrial history. "No 
man ever made so many men millionaires or shared his profits so 
lavishly" is the verdict of such men as Schwab and Corey who shared 
freely of his bounties and bonuses. 

"The modern Patron Saint of Scotland" he has been called — yet 
the people of his native town, carried away by their indignation at his 
peace views in the early days of the war, splattered his statue with 
mud and filth. 

In face of all this, what is the truth ? Is he an enigma? Are there 
two Carnegies, saint and devil, Jekyll and Hyde? 

Before I undertook a close study of Carnegie's life I had imbibed 
several unfavourable ideas from my elders in Carnegie's native country. 
They disliked his ostentatious "cantrips." Some resented the name 
"CARNEGIE" being plastered over buildings he helped to erect 
— and then left the struggling tax-payers to support. Stories of 
his arrogance, his impatience of contradiction by even the greatest 
experts and specialists in any line, his overweening self-satisfaction, his 
atheistic preachments, his never-ceasing slurs upon the royal family — 
such stories were rife in Highland glens and hamlets and cities. 

I want to say, however, that fuller knowledge has modified my 
preconceived views and removed many misconceptions. I am no 
hero-worshipper; but in my judgment Carnegie's admirable qualities 
far outweigh his foibles, many of which were inspired in the early 
days, not by vanity, but by business motives. 

When as a young man he invited the Prince of Wales to ride on a 
Pennsylvania Railroad engine he had an eye solely to future business 
favours — and he got them. When he moved in prominent social 
places in New York, still higher political and diplomatic circles in 
Washington, and hobnobbed with European royalties, it was with no 
thought of shining in the society columns of newspapers; it was more 
for the sake of the "profit" columns in his ledgers. 


Later, people of eminence and intellect sought the company of 
Carnegie less for the sake of his purse than for his personality. He 
travelled everywhere and saw everything with intelligent eyes. His 
scanty schooling was supplemented by subsequent study, guided and 
coached by a tutor. He became a man of genuine education and of 
wonderful knowledge. The volumes that appeared under his name 
were not written, as many supposed, by others. He could recite half 
of Shakespeare and all of Burns and was deeply read in many subjects. 

Before his wealth became notable his close British friends included 
such intellectual giants as Gladstone, Rosebery, Morley, Herbert 
Spencer, Mathew Arnold, and James Bryce. 

In such company Carnegie could hold his own. He was a fine 
story-teller; he was cheerful; he had unbounded faith in the future; he 
loved life and he loved the world and its inhabitants. He was not 
immersed completely in steel; the truth is, no steel man ever knew less 
about steel than Carnegie did — but no man ever knew how to capture 
bigger orders, how to secure better results from workmen, or how to 
pick from the ranks such able partners. After his youthful struggles 
he, like John D. Rockefeller, took life easier than any of his associates 
— and has outlived the majority of them. 

Carnegie admittedly drove his partners, his superintendents and 
other aspiring hopefuls like slaves, both for their own financial advan- 
tage and his. But he treated the workmen "white" and was warmly 
regarded by them. 

It is not difficult to analyze the causes of Carnegie's quarrels with 
other giants in the industry. His falling-out with Frick, for example, 
was inevitable in the nature of the men and the evolving economic 

Carnegie ridiculed kings and monarchs, yet he set up a business 
monarchy and crowned himself king. His word was as autocratic as 
that of the ex-Czar of Russia or the Sultan of Turkey. His favourites 
became courtiers, but none must attempt to seek or force a place on the 
throne. Able men whom he raised from the ranks and made wealthy 
by his system of bonuses and profit-sharing, worshipped their maker. 
His arrogance, his slave-driving, his masterfulness they accepted as a 
matter of course. Since Carnegie paid the fiddler, it was fitting he 
should have complete right to call the tune. And they were content 
to dance to the Carnegie music. 

These methods worked all right with subordinates, but equals would 
not stand his highhandedness. 

Henry C. Frick was already a man of wealth and power when he 
joined Carnegie. He foresaw the coming evolution in the conduct of 
big business. He realized the interdependence of industrial, railroad 
and financial interests. He saw that the day of independent mon- 


archs was passed; he believed in a more democratic form of business 
administration. Instead of a czar, there must be control by states- 
men, by directors. Frick was at home among his equals in brains and 
power; Carnegie would admit of no equals and would share his sceptre 
with no one. Frick adapted himself to the new economic order; 
Carnegie was of the old school — where Carnegie sat that must be the 
head of the table. 

It is not true, however, that Carnegie hoodwinked partner after 
partner into parting with his stock to him at cruelly low figures. 
The explanation in most cases was that, when storms of depression 
broke, his associates lost faith in steel, whereas Andrew Carnegie, from 
the first time he saw a Bessemer furnace in operation (in England), 
never once lost confidence in the metal. He could always peer beyond 
the darkest clouds and see in steel something of infinite importance to 
the progress of the world. Never for a moment did he doubt that 
molten streams of iron could be transformed into streams of gold. 

It is no exaggeration to say that no employer ever shared his profits 
so generously with his co-workers as did Carnegie. But power he 
would not share. 

If I were to attempt to describe Andrew Carnegie in one comprehen- 
sive sentence I would say that, as a boy and youth, he worked pro- 
digiously and displayed extraordinary alertness in seizing opportuni- 
ties; that he glorified his parents and treated his mother with the most 
beautiful reverence; that through intense study and very extensive 
travel he became a man of no mean culture; that he early manifested 
extraordinary skill in financiering and pulled off more clever deals 
than any man of his day; that he treated his workmen with considera- 
tion and inspired talent by his generous, adroit system of sharing 
profits with those who contributed to the attainment of successful 
results; that in temperament he was strong-willed to the point of 
arrogance, and distinctly vainglorious, though, at the same time, he 
had simple habits and democratic ways; finally, that, by his example 
of prodigal giving, mostly for worthy purposes, he has done much to 
take the curse from inordinate riches and to force other millionaires to 
spend large parts of their fortunes for the benefit of humanity, thus, 
by his own deeds and by his example, furthering incalculably the 
brotherhood of man. 

And now let us rapidly trace the steps by which the immigrant son 
of a poor weaver rose to be emperor of the world of steel. 

Born in Dunfermline in 1835, the son of a handloom weaver, An- 
drew Carnegie had little schooling and early sought to contribute 
to the family purse. When ten he saved enough to buy a box of 
oranges which he peddled profitably to retailers! The introduction 
of steam-driven looms forced the Carnegie family, consisting of the 


parents and two sons, Andrew and Tom, to emigrate to America 
when Andy was twelve. They took up their abode at Barefoot Square, 
Slabtown, Allegheny, Pa., where relatives had settled. The father 
got a job in a cotton mill and Andy was taken in as a bobbin boy 
at #1.20 a week. His mother took in washing and sewed boots for 
a next-door shoemaker named Phipps, with whose ten-year-old son, 
Harry, the little immigrant became fast friends. 

"The genuine satisfaction I had from that #1.20 outweighs any 
subsequent pleasure in money-getting," Carnegie declared some 
years ago. 

He worked from darkness in the morning until darkness every 
evening, with only forty minutes' respite at noon. The thought, 
however, that he had been "admitted to the family partnership as 
a contributing member" comforted and sustained him. 

A friendly Scotsman next gave him work in his bobbin factory at 
$1.80 a week, but here his duties included firing the boiler. "The 
responsibility," he chronicles, "of keeping the water right and of 
running the engine and the danger of my making a mistake and blow- 
ing the whole factory to pieces, caused too great a strain, and I woke 
and found myself sitting up in bed through the night trying the steam 
gauges. But I never told them at home that I was having a hard 
tussle. No, no! Everything must be bright to them." 

Next, a former resident of Dunfermline gave little Andy a job as a 
telegraph messenger in Pittsburgh at #3 a week. Scared lest his ig- 
norance of the city might cause him to lose his place, he drilled him- 
self so industriously that he was soon able to close his eyes and rattle 
off" the name and address of every business house throughout the 
business section of the city! He went to the office early and secretly 
practised on the telegraph instruments. 

One morning Philadelphia was clamouring to send a "death mes- 
sage," and Andy, in the absence of any operator, took the message 
over the wire and promptly delivered it before the office opened for 
business. Instead of being, as he feared, dismissed for his audacity, 
he was soon promoted to be an operator, "and received the, to me, 
enormous recompense of #25 per month, #300 a year." He did extra 
work in copying press messages which brought him $1 additional 
weekly and also brought him into contact every evening with the 
morning newspaper reporters. 

Thomas A. Scott, then the Pittsburgh superintendent of the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad, who often visited the telegraph office to talk to 
the General Superintendent at Altoona, noted the energetic young 
operator, and when the railroad put up a wire of its own, Carnegie 
was installed as clerk and operator at #35 per month. 

An accident tied up the road one day when the Superintendent was 


not at hand and Carnegie, on his own initiative, made the wires sizzle 
with instructions signed "Thomas A. Scott." This was against all 
rules, but Carnegie had adopted as his motto one he has often quoted 
since — " Break orders to save owners." Scott made him his private 
secretary at $50 a month and started Carnegie on his way to fortune. 

"Could you find #500 to invest?" Mr. Scott asked him one day. 
"Yes, sir, I think I can," he replied, although how or where he was to 
get so huge a sum he had not the faintest notion. Scott explained 
that an owner of ten shares of Adams Express Company stock had 
died and that it could be purchased for #50 a share. The Carnegie 
family savings had gone to purchase a small house in order to save 
rent. The resourceful mother, "The Oracle," as Andy termed her, 
solved the problem by taking a steamer next morning for Ohio and 
mortgaging the home to an uncle, "to give our boy a start." 

His first dividend check, "a mysterious golden visitor," set Car- 
negie thinking. This way, he saw, lay fortune. Soon afterward 
Woodruff, the inventor, showed the private secretary the model of a 
sleeping car and he at once became enthusiastic. When offered a 
share in the venture, Carnegie accepted. Again he had not the 
necessary funds, but he boldly visited the local banker and asked for a 

"Oh, yes, Andy, you are all right," said the banker, and the name 
"Andrew Carnegie" was for the first time signed to a note — he was 
subsequently to be one of the world's most persistent borrowers. 

Scott aided him at every turn in his financial operations, and when, 
during the Civil War, Scott was made vice-president of the Pennsyl- 
vania, Carnegie was chosen to fill Scott's place as superintendent at 
Pittsburgh. Both rendered yeoman service to their country in the 
transportation and telegraph fields during the war. 

Carnegie was then 28 and something of a capitalist. The burning 
of a wooden bridge played havoc with railroad traffic and this set the 
keen-eyed Scotsman a-thinking. 

"Why not go into the building of iron bridges?" he asked himself. 
Forthwith he organized the Keystone Bridge Company, and — wise man 
— secured J. Edgar Thompson, then president of the Pennsylvania, 
Colonel Scott, vice-president, and other influential railroad men as 
stockholders. With such influence behind it, the company booked 
huge orders at such prices that it paid a total of 100 per cent, in divi- 
dends in four years. He entered a successful oil venture and several 
metal enterprises, including the Kloman-Miller-Phipps-Carnegie 
Company, which owned the Union Iron Mills. Indeed, he became so 
much of a business man and capitalist that he gave up his railroad 

Off he went for a nine months' tour in Great Britain, leaving his 


partners to run the iron mills. Then disaster came. Depression 
set in, iron prices fell and the Union Iron Mills faced disaster. Miller, 
the most wealthy of the partners, had to advance money for work- 
men's wages. In lieu of cash many workmen were given orders for 
groceries on a village store. Stocks of pig iron had to be pawned. 
Then, to cap the climax, the puddlers struck. Miller quit. He sold 
for #73,600 stock which thirty-four years later, when the steel trust was 
formed, brought millions of dollars. 

Carnegie hustled for orders from his railroad friends, and although 
he knew next to nothing about steel, he booked more contracts than 
any other drummer of his day. By effective team-work among the 
young partners, they managed to pull through. 

It is not generally known that Carnegie for a time was a bond 
broker. In 1872 he was given a commission to place in Europe 
$6,000,000 of bonds of a Pennsylvania branch road and cleared 
$150,000. Later he made a second trip and earned $75,000 com- 

When in England he saw the Bessemer process of making steel. 
The sight of iron being blown into steel captured his imagination. 
Henceforth steel was to be his life. Rushing across the Atlantic he 
organized Carnegie, McCandless & Company with a capital of 
$700,000 which built a new steel plant which he, wily Scot, named 
the Edgar Thompson Steel Works. Thus flattered, how could the 
president of the Pennsylvania refuse his namesake generous rebates? 

The name "Carnegie" began to be sounded all over the United 
States and Europe, whither he made frequent and spectacular trips. 
This was just after the 1873 panic. Protected by a huge tariff on the 
one hand and aided by rebates on the other, profits were piled up 
thick and fast. In 1880 steel rails were run up to $85 a ton, the works 
were run twenty-four hours a day, and the year's profits exceeded 

The following year the company was reorganized as Carnegie Bros. 
& Co., with $5,000,000 capital, of which Carnegie owned more than 
half. From then until 1888 the profits averaged $2,000,000 a year, 
or 40 per cent. Carnegie had rolled up a fortune of $15,000,000. 

As partners died or dropped out, Carnegie took over their interest 
in the concern. Finally, only Carnegie and Henry Phipps — with 
whom, later, he quarrelled — were left. Competitors, too, including the 
Homestead and Duquesne Companies, were astutely bought out until 
Carnegie became undisputed steel king. 

Frick's enormous coke properties in the Connellsville district of 
Pennsylvania were acquired by Carnegie in 1882 and Henry C. Frick 
for years was Carnegie's most trusted associate. The combination 
lasted until 1899, when the two parted company. 


The Carnegie Steel Company was reorganized with Carnegie in 
undisputed control. How he surrounded himself with such brilliant 
practical steel men as Captain "Bill" Jones, Schwab, Corey, Dinkey, 
and Morrison, and paid them enormous bonuses for results achieved; 
how he threatened competitors by announcing that he would build 
new plants and even build a new railroad to bring the Pennsylvania 
to its senses; how he frightened the country's leading money kings, 
and how he finished up by selling out to the organizers of the steel 
trust, are too well known to call for recapitulation. 

His benefactions have included $60,000,000 for over 2,500 library 
buildings; $125,000,000 for the Carnegie Corporation of New York; 
$17,000,000 for colleges; $6,000,000 ■ for church organs; $22,000,000 
for the Carnegie Institution of Washington; $16,000,000 for the 
Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; $13,000,000 
for the Carnegie Institute at Pittsburgh; $10,000,000 for the Carnegie 
Institute of Technology; over $10,000,000 for Carnegie hero funds; 
$10,000,000 for the endowment of international peace; $4,000,000 
for steel workers' pensions; $2,000,000 for the Church Peace Union, 
and $1,500,000 for the Hague peace palace. 

It is as a giver, not as a maker, of millions that Carnegie will live 
in history. 


MR. MORGAN wants to see you in his library at three o'clock," 
was the message received one day by the vice-president of a 
New York bank. 

He hadn't the slightest idea what the veteran financier could want 
with him. He had met Mr. Morgan, as most other financiers had, 
during the parlous days when the master mind of them all was trying 
to stem the 1907 panic, but had not seen anything of Mr. Morgan 
until the spring of the following year when, with Senator Aldrich and 
other members of the Monetary Commission, he had spent a Sunday 
at Mr. Morgan's London home. Between then and the receipt of 
the above message in the fall of 1908 he had seldom spoken to Mr. 

Promptly at three o'clock the young banker, wondering what the 
matter could be, rang the bell of the famous Morgan library. On 
being ushered in he almost collided with Mr. Morgan at the entrance 
to his private room. 

Mr. Morgan shook hands and bade the puzzled visitor be seated. 

"Do you realize it is pretty near the first of January?" he asked. 

The young banker, very much at sea, agreed that it was — this was 
about the middle of November. 

"Are you ready?" asked Mr. Morgan. 

"Ready for what?" queried the astonished visitor. 

"For what?" echoed Mr. Morgan. "You know I want you to 
come and join my firm on the first of January." 

"You never said anything about it, Mr. Morgan." 

"I thought you knew by my attitude what I thought of you," said 
Mr. Morgan. 

A pause. 

"Mr. Morgan, have you ever fallen from an 18-story building?" 

It was Mr. Morgan's turn to be astonished. 

"No," he replied, scrutinizing his visitor. 

"Well, I never have before, and it will take me a minute or two to 
catch my breath." 

Mr. Morgan laughed. 

And that was how Henry P. Davison, then only 40, was notified 
of his selection as a partner in the greatest international banking firm 
in the United States. 




The story of how this same young banker won his first foothold on 
the New York banking ladder reveals the stuff he is made of. 

He had quickly risen from office-boy to receiving teller in a modest 
bank at Bridgeport, Conn., when he read in the newspapers that a 
new bank was being formed in New York. Young Davison wanted to 
go to New York. He wanted to go very badly. In fact, he made 
up his mind that he must get a position in this new bank. 

Armed with a letter from one of his directors who knew the cashier, 
he took the afternoon train to New York and handed in the letter. 

The cashier treated him most cordially — so cordially that the young 
man left smiling, although without any job. 

His smiles wore off when he got into the train homeward bound and 
thought matters over. 

But he was not to be so easily licked! Next afternoon, when the 
bank closed, he again boarded a New York train. The cashier, 
although somewhat surprised to see him back, again accorded him a 
very pleasant interview, but explained that it was out of the question 
to engage an out-of-town man as paying teller — that was the office 
Davison was after. They must have a man with New York experi- 
ence and of wide acquaintance. The cashier was so frank and sym- 
pathetic, however, that for the second time it was a smiling youth 
who left his presence. 

The homeward journey, however, again dissipated the smiles. 

He would try again ! 

Next afternoon, for the third time, he started for New York more 
determined than ever to get the place he wanted. 

"The cashier has gone for the day," was the chilling message he 

"Where does he live?" asked young Davison, undaunted. 

In half an hour he was inside the cashier's home. A servant ex- 
plained that his employer was dressing to go out to attend a dinner. 
All right, the visitor would wait. 

On entering the room the banker burst out laughing. So did 
Davison, but only for a moment. He at once got down to brass 

He began with all the intense earnestness he felt: "I know I am 
the man you want for paying teller. I can help you. I feel embar- 
rassed at having to say this myself, but there is no one to say it for 
me. Give me the position and I will try to see that you will never 
regret it." 

The ardour, the sincerity, and the perseverance of the young man 
made such an impression upon the banker that he became convinced 
the choice would prove wise. 

"How much salary would you want?" he asked. 


"I would like #1,500 but I would take $600 or #700 — anything you 
like, so long as I can live on it." 

This time it was the paying teller of the Astor Place Bank, at #1,500, 
that said good-bye. To celebrate, he went to a theatre. The big news 
was overpowering. 

"Say, do you know who I am?" he abruptly asked a stranger sitting 
next to him. The man looked at him and confessed he didn't. 

"I am the paying teller of a New York bank!" 

Alas, the news failed to make any tremendous impression — except, 
probably, that the man thought he had next to him a young lunatic! 

Disappointment was in store, however. Hardly had Davison 
given up his position and returned home for a rest before entering 
upon his new duties when he received a letter from the cashier con- 
taining the news that the directors had not endorsed his action, and 
that it would save much trouble if Mr. Davison would forego the pay- 
ing tellership and accept a lower position at a smaller salary. He 
added that if Mr. Davison insisted in standing upon his rights, of 
course the directors would have to agree. 

"Perfectly satisfied to accept lower position and salary," Mr. 
Davison immediately telegraphed — he did not want his benefactor 
to be kept in any suspense during the time a letter would take to reach 

That this telegram confirmed the cashier in his sizing up of the 
young man can readily be understood. 

To save carfare, the ambitious bank clerk used to ride on a bicycle 
daily to and from the bank in Astor Place to 104th Street, a distance 
of more than ten miles. 

Henry Pomeroy Davison had early learned the value of money — 
and, also, when he wanted to go to college, the terrible awkwardness 
of not having the wherewithal. His mother had died when he was 
seven years old — he was born on June 13, 1867 — and the four children 
were scattered among uncles and aunts. He attended school in his 
little native town, Troy, Pa., until he was 15, and before he was 
16 he was teaching. He then began to realize the value of education 
and applied himself diligently to study. His grandmother, with 
whom he was then living, remarked one day: "This boy may be 
worth doing something for." So she arranged to have him attend 
boarding school, the Greylock Institute at South Williamstown, 
Mass., where Charles H. Sabin, now president of the Guaranty 
Trust Company of New York, the largest in the country, was one 
of his classmates. 

"Harry Davison," Mr. Sabin told me, "<was at the top of every 
class he entered and was valedictorian — but he was not much at 
athletics. He was very popular because he used, every morning, to 


let a crowd look over his answers to problems and other stuff given 
at night. He was always willing to help a fellow out." 

During vacations he worked on a farm. On graduating he re- 
turned to Troy, whose 1,200 people supported one bank run by his 
uncle. A place was made for Harry as errand boy in it. He im- 
mediately became intensely interested and for two years worked very 
hard. Troy, however, held out little of a future and he regretted 
deeply that he had not gone to college. He began tutoring with a 
view to entering college. But, when qualified, he realized that he 
did not have the necessary money! Then he made up his mind to 
strike out. 

He went to New York, tramped the streets looking for a job, but 
failed to find one. He went to Bridgeport, Conn., where he had an 
old friend. There he was given choice of a job ajs a runner in the 
bank or a clerk in a grocery store. He chose the bank. 

By starting early in the morning and doing as much as possible 
of his own work by noon, he found time to stand by the bookkeeper 
and learn from him how to keep books. In a few months he was doing 
most of the work for this bookkeeper, and when the latter was pro- 
moted the runner got the job. The new runner was at once taken in 
hand by Bookkeeper Davison and taught bookkeeping. Then the 
bookkeeper applied himself to learning all about the teller's work. 
When the next shift came Davison was able to step up to the tellership 
and the runner had been trained to become bookkeeper. He applied 
exactly the same method in his new position. 

"Then and ever since I have found it a good system, not only to 
reach out and learn the work of the man ahead of you, but also to 
teach your job to the fellow below you," said Mr. Davison. 

How the young Bridgeport teller broke into New York has already 
been told. Six months after starting as receiving teller in the new 
Astor Place Bank he was promoted to the position on which he had 
at first set his heart, that of paying teller. 

Dame Fortune sometimes plays queer pranks to accomplish her 
ends. Davison was "shot" into his next place. One day a crank 
pointed a revolver at Teller Davison's head, presented a check for 
$$1,000 drawn to the order of the Almighty and demanded the money. 
Davison coolly accepted the check, read it loud enough to attract 
notice and began to count out the money. Others grasped the situa- 
tion, and while the gun was still cocked at Davison's head, the bank 
detective seized the madman. 

The newspapers made much of the dramatic incident and of 
the teller's self-possession. The directors of the Liberty National 
Bank happened to have a meeting that day and the holdup was 


"I know that young fellow," said Dumont Clarke, a director of the 
bank. "He would be a good man to have in the bank." 

Mr. Clarke had met Davison once or twice when the latter visited 
his fiancee (Miss Kate Trubee of Bridgeport) while she was spending 
a vacation with her friend, Mr. Clarke's daughter. 

Forthwith Mr. Davison was installed as assistant cashier of the 
Liberty. Within a year he was made cashier, three years later he was 
elected vice-president, and in another year president. His rise was 
so rapid that it attracted general attention. New York financial 
annals had contained few if any instances of a man of 32 being chosen 
as president of an important national bank solely on merit and with- 
out influence of any kind whatsoever. 

Ruts were and are avoided by Davison, for ruts are graves in the 
making. He was not long with the Liberty when he did something 
original. It is told that when he joined the bank he procured a full 
list of the stockholders, mostly business men, visited each and de- 
livered this sort of exhortation: 

"You own . . . shares of the Liberty National Bank. Of 
course you would like to see them become more valuable. Well, 
now, won't you try to induce some of your friends to do business with 
us? We will treat them right — and the increased business will mean 
increased dividends." 

Laggard stockholders were re- visited until nearly all were inoculated 
with the Davison spirit of enthusiasm. It became something of a 
sporting contest, this competition among stockholders to bring in the 
largest possible amount of new business. 

Such intelligent initiative impressed the bank's owners — and helped 
the institution to grow at a rate which excited comment. It soon 
outgrew its quarters in the Central of New Jersey building in West 
Street and more pretentious, as well as more central, offices were 
opened at 139 Broadway. The old lease had two years to run and 
Mr. Davison preferred to keep the place closed lest a new concern 
might open there and fall heir to much of the Liberty's custom. 
Empty offices, however, being detrimental to a building, the owners 
brought pressure to bear upon Mr. Davison to agree to the subletting 
of the space. 

Mr. Davison felt strongly, however, about the danger of a new bank 
taking the customers before they had learned to find the way to 139 
Broadway. What could be done about it? 

One of the most brilliant ideas of his life flashed into his mind, an 
idea that was destined to raise Davison's prestige and influence ex- 
traordinarily, as well as to help out his bank account, which then was 
a long way from six figures. 

"I'll organize a trust company. Our capital will be safe and we 


ought to earn at least 6 per cent. ' It will make a good tenant for 
the Liberty's old building and it will afford some of us pleasant asso- 
ciations," was the plan he mapped out. 

The bankers and others to whom he outlined the plan became so 
enthusiastic that the capital of $1,000,000 was quoted at $200 per 
share before the doors were opened. It is known, however, that the 
originator of the enterprise refused all suggestions that he take a 
larger share than the other directors. Each was awarded exactly the 
same amount of stock, a procedure that enhanced Mr. Davison's 
reputation for scrupulous fairness. The name given Mr. Davison's 
financial child was the Bankers' Trust Company. To-day it owns and 
occupies the most notable financial skyscraper in Wall Street, has 
total deposits of approximately $300,000,000, making it the second 
largest trust company in America. Mr. Davison, naturally, was made 
chairman of the executive committee, which position he has held 
ever since. A tablet erected in the magnificent building contains 
this tribute to the founder: 







Contrary to the impression sought to be conveyed by the Pujo 
Committee investigators, the Bankers' Trust was not built up by an 
oligarchy of New York's leading financiers. It was a young men's 
enterprise. Such enthusiasts as Albert H. Wiggin, Gates W. Mc- 
Garrah, Benjamin Strong, Jr., and Davison, not veterans who had 
"arrived," were chosen for the executive committee and worked 
nights patiently, zealously, skilfully, unsparingly, to win the success 
which was rapidly achieved. The experience broadened all of them. 

George F. Baker, the veteran head of the First National Bank and a 
financier ranking in power second only to his closest friend, the late 
J. P. Morgan, did not fail to note the calibre of this resourceful young 
banker, and in 1902 he induced Mr. Davison — then only 35 years of 
age — to become his right-hand man as vice-president of the First 

It was Mr. Davison's work during the 1907 panic that first brought 
him prominently to the attention of Commander-in-chief Morgan. 
At Mr. Morgan's request he was on hand at all the important con- 
ferences held uptown and downtown during the dark days of October 
and November. In the following spring Senator Aldrich appointed 


him an adviser to the National Monetary Commission to investigate 
the financial systems of Europe. 

"Homestaying youths have ever homely wits," said Shakespeare. 
Davison is not open to this charge. He has enjoyed unique inter- 
national experiences. First, as an adviser to the National Monetary 
Commission, he visited Europe and there met the Finance Ministers 
and other leading banking powers in England, France, Germany, and 
other European countries, discussing with them the very foundations 
of finance, banking, and currency, a privilege of rare value to a banker 
under 40 years of age and quick to seize every opportunity to enhance 
his knowledge and his usefulness. Next, when the Six-Power 
Chinese Loan was bruited, Washington, then presided over by Taft 
and Knox, asked a group of American bankers to join it in order to 
strengthen America's position in the Orient, and more particularly to 
enable this country to have a potent voice in insisting upon the main- 
tenance of Secretary Hay's famous "Open-Door" policy for China. 
It was Henry P. Davison, by this time a member of the Morgan firm, 
who was selected to proceed to Europe and conduct the negotiations 
on behalf of the American group, consisting of Morgan & Co., Kuhn, 
Loeb & Co., the National City Bank and the First National Bank. 
Not only that; it was Davison who was chosen by the British, 
French, German, Russian, and Japanese delegations to become chair- 
man of the whole group. 

The protracted negotiations entailed several visits to Europe and 
long stays there, affording the young American an insight into Euro- 
pean finance that equipped him, as nothing else could, as a real inter- 
national banker. 

That the negotiations came to naught was largely due to the atti- 
tude assumed by the Wilson administration, which frowned on 
"Dollar Diplomacy." Since then the Administration has changed 
its attitude and is now anxious that our bankers should extend aid to 

The wisdom of Mr. Morgan's choice of Mr. Davison as a partner 
needs no descriptive words; financial history bears record that the 
greatest banker America has ever known found in Henry P. Davison 
the greatest partner he ever had. 

Not the least valuable of Mr. Davison's achievements has been his 
untrumpeted endeavours to bring about a spirit of greater friendliness 
and cooperation throughout the banking community. His own 
openness and frankness have encouraged others to adopt a like attitude 
in their daily dealings with one another and with the public, His 
organization of the Bankers' Trust Company contributed toward 
this end by bringing many bankers together in a friendly way. The 
improvement which has been brought about in the exchange of credit 


information is one fruit of this new and better live-and-let-live 

Davison, blessed with fine physique and an engaging countenance, 
is both likeable and liked, by employees as well as by other bankers. 
He does not know how to dissemble — not even when bombarded by 
awkward, not-to-be answered queries by prying reporters. He goes 
at everything directly. He has confidence not only in himself but in 
men that he picks — he has often helped institutions to find important 
officers and has not hesitated to accept entire responsibility for his 
judgment in making selections. He is a man of courage, unafraid 
to face difficult situations, since originality, resourcefulness, and diplo- 
macy can overcome most obstacles. 

"In climbing the ladder of success what have you learned that you 
could pass on to aid other struggling young men ?" I asked Mr. 
Davison. "Did you conceive any shining goal and bend everything 
to reaching it?" 

"No," he replied emphatically. "Whatever job I had was to me 
always the very best job in the world, and I tried to fill it. I made no 
elaborate plans for the future. If I had any system in my labour it 
was first to do my own work; second, to teach the fellow below me 
how to take my place; third, to learn howto fill the position ahead of me. 

"Boys and young men should not imagine that their work is so 
unimportant that nobody takes note of how they do it. It does not 
take long to find out whether a boy is on his toes watching how he can 
best be of help in a situation or whether he merely sits down and 
waits to be told what to do. The simple virtues of willingness, readi- 
ness, alertness, and courtesy will carry a boy farther than mere smart- 

"Perhaps it will not be out of place for me to describe an incident 
which may carry a lesson for the young men you are anxious to help. 
One day when I was teller, a customer offered me a very fine gold pen. 
I went right into the office and asked if this man had any loan from 
the bank. I explained that he had asked me to accept the gift. 
The bank promptly acted and it was not long before the fellow was in 
bankruptcy. The simple course I took saved the bank a good deal of 

"Following a plain, straightforward course avoids complications 
of all sorts. Life is really simple. If it becomes complicated it is 
because we ourselves make it complicated." 

The American Government, through President Wilson, recently 
signified its regard for Mr. Davison's transcendent ability by appoint- 
ing him Chairman of the Red Cross War Council, one of the most 
important and onerous positions in the whole country, for on the 
Red Cross devolves the vast, complicated task of relieving "the suffer- 


ing and distress which must inevitably arise, out of this fight for 
humanity and democracy," to quote President Wilson's words. The 
hand of a master at the helm at once became manifest. The Society 
immediately undertook the reorganization and concentration of all 
Red Cross and similar efforts throughout the country, coordinated 
the activities of multitudinous smaller bodies, stirred up public inter- 
est and launched a brilliant campaign for the raising of $100,000,000, 
an unpredecented undertaking. Yet so ably was the movement con- 
ducted that the goal of $100,000,000 was passed handsomely. 

F. Trubee Davison, one of Mr. Davison's sons, with a foresight 
worthy of his father, organized a flying corps of young college men to 
train as the First New York unit of the Aerial Coast Patrol and be- 
came an expert hydro-aeroplanist before he met with a lamentable 
accident, in July, 1917, while in active performance of his duties 
in the air. Harry P. Davison, Jr., began serving with the American 
Ambulance Corps in France before war was declared by the United 
States but he later returned and joined the more dangerous aviation 
service. Both became active members of the Naval Reserve Fly- 
ing Corps. Mrs. Davison has set an example to other American 
mothers by the brave and patriotic attitude she has taken through- 
out the campaign. The expense of training the collegiate fliers 
was borne by her, and she has also maintained an active aviation 
camp at her summer home. 

Although Mr. Davison was never a star at any games or sports, he 
contrives to get a good deal of exercise and pleasure. He plays a 
swift game of tennis, rides horseback, and is at home aboard his 
yacht, which in the summer takes him to business in the morning 
and back in the afternoon to his beautiful home on Long Island, 
where under normal conditions he spends much time. Since America 
entered the war, Mr. Davison has taken up residence in Washington, 
where he spends all his time. 

For years Mr. Davison was president of the hospital at Englewood, 
N. J., where he used to live, and he has always done a lot of active 
Red Cross work. He has also done much, his friends declare, in 
helping young men to help themselves. He is entitled to write 
"Dr." in front of his name, having received the degree of LL.D. from 
the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a Knight of the Order 
of the Crown of Italy. 

Recently he was given the military rank of Major-General in 
connection with his Red Cross governmental office. 

Success has not spoiled General Davison. He is as democratic 
in spirit as in the days when he rode his wheel through ten miles of 
crowded streets to save ten cents car fare daily. 



THE cook-boy in a remote Canadian lumber camp was caught 
off guard. 
"What are you up to?" demanded the boss. 

The boy, startled, crumpled up a sheet of rough paper he had 
spread on top of a flour barrel. 

"I've finished my work," he apologized. 

"What were you doing?" asked the boss. 

"When I have anv spare time I like to learn," he explained timidlv. 

"Learn what?" " 

"To figure and write." 

The camp manager picked up the rumpled paper. It was covered 
with figures and writing. 

He said no more. 

When Li Yuen-hung was chosen President of China one of the 
first things he did was to send this ex-cook-boy a cable expressing a 
desire for his friendship. Yuan Shi-kai, his predecessor, had decor- 
ated the former lumber camp lad. So had the last Emperor of China. 

To-day the cook-boy is one of the most influential counsellors of the 
Chinese Government and almost an idol in the eyes of the Chinese 

His name is Robert Dollar, the foremost producer and exporter of 
lumber in the United States; the owner of two fleets of steamers — one 
for coastal, the other for overseas trade; the greatest individual creator 
of commerce between the Pacific Coast and the Orient; a still greater 
creator and cementer of friendship between the Orient and the Occi- 
dent, and this country's most potent worker for the establishment of a 
powerful American merchant marine. Also, a philanthropist. 

It was Captain Dollar who led the unsuccessful fight against the 
enactment of the suicidal La Follette Seamen's bill which immediately 
swept the Stars and Stripes from the Pacific Ocean and gave the Jap- 
anese complete control of the commerce between the Orient and the 
United States before the American people had their eyes opened to 
the gravity of the situation. 

"La Follette's name will go down to posterity as the man who 
drove the last nail into the merchant-marine coffin," the veteran 
captain declared when, despite all the protests of commercial and 
shipping authorities, the fatal measure was passed by Congress. 



The law was found to be so impossible that Washington was obliged 
to announce that certain features of it would not — because they 
could not — be enforced. 

Even so, the conditions brought about were so demoralizing, so 
subversive of all discipline, so productive of insubordination, that 
shipping casualties became so numerous on the Pacific Coast that in- 
surance companies refused to accept risks. 

An impressive tribute to the genius of American statesmanship! 

Not content to legislate for American ships, then representing 
about one per cent, of the world's shipping tonnage, the Washington 
wiseacres actually attempted to make laws for the remaining 99 per 
cent.! Of course they had to crawl back into their shells. If they 
hadn't, America would have been left without ships to move her 
$7,000,000,000 of annual exports and imports. President Wilson sent 
for Captain Dollar, but, unfortunately, Congress did not promptly 
follow the sound advice given. America had not then had her eyes 
opened by participation in the world war. 

"All we shipowners want," Captain Dollar repeatedly told the 
Government, "is to be put on an equal footing with other nations. 
Give us equal laws and we will give you a merchant marine rivalling 
that of a century ago, when the Stars and Stripes carried nine-tenths 
of the United States overseas commerce. To-day our naval vessels 
cannot go far from land without the support of foreign auxiliaries." 

So ridiculous did our marine regulations become that American 
shipowners were compelled to fly the British flag and employ British 
Naval Reserve men on their vessels, thus helping to strengthen Bri- 
tain's power at the expense of crippling our own. 

"You may succeed in driving us out of the United States, but you 
can't drive us out of the business," Captain Dollar told Andrew 
Furuseth, the seamen's professional agitator, who really was the in- 
spirer of the measure. 

Patriotic American though Captain Dollar is, he was compelled by 
our absurd laws to run his overseas fleet under an alien flag and from an 
alien port. Whereas his ships used to sail from California, their 
headquarters is now Vancouver, British Columbia, which levies toll, 
of course, on every ton entering her harbours and gets the railroad 
haul of merchandise which ought to pass over none but American lines 
and be handled by none but American workmen. 

By what steps and by what qualities did Robert Dollar climb from 
the cook's shanty to the ownership of steamship lines and a vast tim- 
ber business, honoured by election to the presidency of both the 
Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants' Exchange of San Fran- 
cisco, by selection as a director of the Foreign Trade Council, by 
appointment as a director of the $50,000,000 American International 


Corporation, by decorations from Pekin and by receiving the Freedom 
of the Borough and the keys of his Scottish birthplace? 

Not one of America's "Fifty Greatest Business Men" began more 
humbly. He was born in a little home above a lumber firm's office at 
Falkirk, Scotland, 73 years ago. When only 12 he was taken from 
school to earn a few shillings as office-boy with a shipping company. 
The family emigrated to Ottawa a year later and little Robert, 
when under fourteen, was dispatched 200 miles from civilization to a 
lumber camp. Even to-day lumber camps are not Sunday-school 
centres; 60 years ago they were— well, less so. 

The most menial job of all was that of "cook's boy." When the 
food did not come up to the expectations of the hungry lumber jacks, 
the person who set it in front of them was lucky if he encountered 
nothing more damaging than a volley of oaths. Bob Dollar, however, 
manifestly was doing his best and most of the rough diamonds came 
to have rather a warm spot for him in their hearts — especially as he 
could be called in to read or write a love letter for those who could use 
axes very effectively but pens not at all. 

When the camp manager, Hiram Robinson, caught the cook's boy 
struggling with addition and subtraction, multiplication and divi- 
sion, and caligraphy, he did not dismiss him for using the company's 
time for such a purpose, but quietly began providing the ambitious 
little fellow with books, and also saw to it that leisure was provided 
for study. 

The lad did not confine his studies to books or to cookery. He 
learned how to fell trees, how to tell good lumber from bad, and, not 
least important, how to get along with the uncouth workmen. Before 
he had had his first shave he was playing the part, not of a boy, but of 
a man, able to hold his own when trouble broke out. 

"Take a drive down the river Du Moine. Take fifty men with 
you," was the order he received one day from the camp manager. 
This was the first drive of saw logs undertaken from the Du Moine 
district over the Chaudiere Falls, a route subsequently taken by many 
millions of Ottawa-bound logs. Dollar, though only twenty-one, 
managed the men and the venture successfully. As a reward he was 
made foreman over a big gang. 

Two things all Scottish children are taught — the Bible and thrift. 
Lumber-jack Dollar had saved most of his hard-won wages, though 
the pay was only $10 a month at the start. Another trait is inde- 
pendence — the northern Scots claim that they are the only people the 
Romans failed to lick after trying. He had enough money when 
twenty-seven to buy a modest bit of timber land and, with high hopes 
and unbounded optimism, started operations. 

Alas ! "Wall Street" upset all his plans and plunged him into bank- 


ruptcy — not because he had speculated on a "sure-thing" tip; it was 
the panic of Black Friday which ruined him as it ruined many stronger 
business men. 

He had learned, however, how to take knocks. Without difficulty 
he found a good job as manager of an important lumber establishment. 
He saved every penny that came within his reach and paid off all his 
debts in full within four years — he was and is an ardent believer in the 
Golden Rule and its Founder. His employer took him into partner- 
ship and this time things moved more satisfactorily. Their product 
consisted chiefly of hewn-board timber for export to England. 

"Captain Dollar is from Missouri — from the heart of Missouri," 
one of his managers said to me. "He must always be shown; he 
wants to see things for himself — even if he has to travel one thousand 
or ten thousand miles to see them. He is one of the best-travelled 
men in the world. He always gets at the bottom of everything. He 
is intensely practical and has scant regard for untested theories. He 
keeps his eyes open all the time for new opportunities. He is the 
most resourceful man in America/' 

Perhaps this explains why he moved first to Michigan, where larger 
and better timber could be had, and later to the Pacific Coast. He 
began lumbering redwood in northern California but grudged the 
amount he was charged for transporting his output. He investigated. 
Discovering that if he could get a ship of his own he could cut the cost 
to half, he bought a little tub, the Newsboy, of some 300 tons. It 
paid for itself in less than a year. 

This appealed to the Scotch in him! If one twopenny boat could 
earn so much, why not get hold of more boats? He did. And that 
was the birth of the now famous Robert Dollar Steamship Company 
with one fleet of vessels in the coastwise trade running all the way 
from Alaska to the Panama Canal, and another fleet plying between 
the Pacific Coast and the Orient, with branches in Shanghai, 
Hong Kong, Tientsin, Hankow, Kobe, Petrograd, Manila, Vancouver, 
Seattle, and New York. 

The business did not grow of its own accord; it had to be built up 
from the foundation. It called for foresight, enterprise^ energy, 
diplomacy, patience, perseverance, and the most scrupulous fair- 
dealing, for no race is more quick to resent questionable practices 
than the Chinese. 

When Captain Dollar first began to ship lumber to the Orient the 
demand was solely for the very largest pieces. This left a by-product 
of small boards which could not be shipped. He knew that the 
Chinese did not use these enormous sizes but that nearly all of them 
were cut into small pieces by hand-saws. The resourceful Dollar 
began persuading his Chinese customers to take a sprinkling of these 


small sizes. He took a trip to the Celestial Empire and created a 
market for his by-product. 

Return cargoes were then not to be had. As there was no profit 
in running empty steamers, trade must be developed. Off he went 
to find out what could be done about it. When he got to the Philip- 
pines he made arrangements to import mahogany and copra. Japan, 
he discovered, could supply oak, sulphur, coke, and coal. China 
yielded a grade of pig iron which Western mills would snap up as fast 
as it could be brought over. 

The Dollar steamships were thus kept loaded both going and com- 
ing. Since the outbreak of war freight rates have been so high that 
lumber could not stand it. Outward shipments, consequently, have 
consisted very largely of general merchandise and munitions, the latter 
chiefly to Vladivostok. From that port the vessels proceed to 
China, Japan, and the Philippines for return cargoes. 

While the Dollar Steamship Company trades with India, Japan, and 
the Philippines, its largest business is with China, where Captain 
Dollar has come to be revered to a degree not easily understood by 
the untravelled American. 

"Never try to cheat a Chinaman," Captain Dollar impresses upon 
every one who would do business with the Chinese. Confucius taught 
them that "honesty is the best policy," and the Chinese live strictly 
up to this axiom. In addressing a meeting of the United States 
Chamber of Commerce he said: "In all our years of trading with the 
Chinese, involving many millions of dollars, we have never lost a 
single cent, never had one bad debt. I wish we could say the same 
.of other countries, including our own." 

Time and again Captain Dollar, on going aboard one of his ships 
on the Pacific to inspect the outgoing cargo, has ordered thousands 
upon thousands of boards dumped back on the pier because they were 
not in every particular exactly what the Chinese buyers had ordered. 
Sometimes the mills had sent better grades, but the Chinaman 
wanted just what he bargained for and would feel aggrieved were 
the contract not lived up to scrupulously. 

"The Captain never bluffs and cannot be bluffed," one of his asso- 
ciates told me. "I remember once a customer sent in a large claim 
on the ground that the lumber delivered was of inferior quality. 
When we went to the yard the owner had two or three hundred 
boards lined up and told us they were a fair sample of the whole con- 
signment and he wanted an adjustment on that basis. The rest of the 
boards had been stacked up in piles twenty-five or thirty feet high. 
'It is all like this,' the customer declared, pointing to the inferior 
boards. 'Let's have a look at it/ said the Captain. 'Oh/ said the 
buyer, 'you can't climb up these piles.' There was no other way to 


get at the stuff, so the Captain, although nearly seventy, shinnied 
to the top almost as fast as a monkey. There was not a bad board in 
sight! He was from Missouri, as I told you before." 

Great as have been the services of Captain Dollar in extending 
American commerce in the Orient and in creating a fleet of high-class 
steamers, both passenger and freight, as well as in striving heroically 
to have Congress adopt sensible shipping legislation, he has a much 
stronger title to the gratitude of the American people. 

Robert Dollar has done more to prevent strife and promote peace 
between America and the Orient than any living statesman.. 

When war was threatened between this country and Japan over 
the San Francisco school question, Captain Dollar succeeded in get- 
ting up a party of commercial men from different chambers of com- 
merce to visit Japan, where he is almost as well known and as highly 
regarded as in China. The Emperor himself received the delegation. 
The entente cordiale was reestablished. After that the jingoes 
could make no headway with their militant propaganda. 

Two years later Captain Dollar organized an influential commission 
to visit China. Their reception by the Emperor, by Governmental 
dignitaries, by cities and by commercial organizations eclipsed in 
ceremony and display anything before or since extended to foreign 
visitors. Captain Dollar's diary of this memorable trip (he has 
kept diaries without a break for sixty years) was later published for 
private circulation at the insistent request of friends; it gives a better 
insight into the nation which comprises one-third of the human race 
than any other publication I have ever read. It is sprinkled with wit 
and humour. The distinguished Chinese delegation, headed by 
Cheng Hsun-chang, which visited the United States and created 
nation-wide interest in 191 5, was China's fitting way of return- 
ing the Dollar delegation's visit. This exchange of courtesies 
not only bore practical commercial fruits in the form of de- 
veloping new business between the two countries, but proved 
infinitely more valuable in bringing the two nations into closer un- 

Captain Dollar, as his photograph shows, is a patriarchal figure 
with his silver-white hair and gray beard. He works prodigiously, 
especially before most of America's 100,000,000 people are out of bed. 
He spends a goodly part of his time and his means in philanthropic 
and church work, being especially interested in furthering the Young 
Men's Christian Association movement throughout the world. His 
native town in Scotland has not been forgotten; his gifts to it include 
elaborate swimming baths. 

I asked Captain Dollar what his vast experience had taught him 
were some of the qualities helpful to the attainment of success. I also 


asked him what ought to be done to enable the United States to attain 
a higher place among the commercial nations of the world. 

The Grand Old Man of the Pacific thus replied to the first question: 

"1. — Fear God and be just and honest to your fellow man. 

"2. — Incessant hard work. 

"3. — Frugality and saving your money. 

"4. — Drink no intoxicating liquors; in these days of keen competi- 
tion whisky and business won't mix — you cant do both. 

"Foreign Trade is the answer to the second question. We are 
legislated to death. Stop legislating and leave our merchants alone 
and they will develop our foreign trade, and provide tonnage to carry 
our own products to market. Permit our shipowners to operate our 
ships exactly on the same terms and conditions as other nations are 
doing, and then our merchants will supply the cargoes and our ship- 
owners will provide plenty of tonnage for our commerce in time of 
peace and auxiliaries to our navy in time of war, and, except for carry- 
ing our mails, it won't cost our country a cent." 

A few months ago a septuagenarian visited octogenarian Hiram 
Robinson, at Ottawa. 

"You don't remember me?" asked the visitor. 

The old man peered at him a moment. 

"Don't I?" he cried, holding out his hand. "You are Bob Dollar, 
my old cook-boy." 

The millionaire ex-cook-boy left Hiram happy, for the aged lum- 
berman was the boss who caught him learning to read and write and 
who made the ascent of the ladder of success a little easier. 


FORTUNE rarely can be overtaken by following the beaten 
track. Most of the notable successes in business and finance 
have been won by those who either opened entirely new paths 
or greatly broadened and developed old ones. 

John D. Rockefeller was the first to grasp and carry out on a large 
scale the idea of combining many small concerns into one powerful 
corporation. E. H. Gary did the same thing in steel in the early days. 
Henry Ford, John N. Willys, William C. Durant, and other forward- 
looking stalwarts jumped into the automobile arena and developed it 
from an infant industry to one of the most important in the country. 
Thomas A. Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Theodore N. Vail were 
all pioneers. Frank W.Woolworth made a fortune by seizing and hold- 
ing on to a new method of merchandising. So did Julius Rosenwald. 

Henry C. Frick took hold of the coke business when it was in its 
swaddling clothes and made of it a giant. George Eastman found 
photography the complicated plaything of a few and so simplified and 
cheapened it that he brought it within the reach of all. John H. 
Patterson did something similar with the cash register. William H. 
Nichols made up his mind to become a manufacturer of chemicals 
because he saw that the field could be tilled with greater scientific 
knowledge and to more profitable account than ever before. E. C. 
Simmons, of hardware fame, and James B. Duke, the tobacco king, 
took hold of existing industries but developed them along new and 
very much broader lines. Minor C. Keith penetrated Central 
America and achieved fame and fortune by his labours to transform it 
from a fever-stricken waste to a tropical fruit garden. Frank A. 
Vanderlip organized and developed a new phase of national banking 
and more recently conceived an improved method of conducting 
international financial and commercial operations. 

W. L. Douglas, the subject of this sketch, has demonstrated that 
the track one follows is of less importance than the diligence and 
enterprise with which it is followed. Before his day no American had 
ever become a millionaire making shoes. Shoemakers were usually 
poor men, doing business on a puny scale. 

Douglas, at the age of thirty-one, after having been bruised and 
buffeted on the stormy sea of experience, set out to become "The 
greatest shoemaker in the world." 




It was a nervy ambition for a young man possessing nothing but his 
head and his hands, with liabilities in the form of a wife and three 
children. He was without capital, without influence, without com- 
mercial training. 

But he did know how to make shoes and he had the will to succeed, 
come what might. 

Let us first look at the young shoemaker's start and then at his 
present place in the world, a place so prominent that the mere pasting 
of his picture on an envelope in almost any country in the world 
will serve to carry the letter to him. 

In 1876 a shoemaker rented one room in a building at Brockton, 
Massachusetts, and, by means of $875 of borrowed capital, installed 
some machinery and engaged five employees. Every day he trudged 
home from Boston with rolls of leather under his arms. This leather 
he personally had to select. He personally had to cut it up to be made 
into shoes which he personally had designed. He personally had to 
lay out the work at night for each employee and had to supervise its 
execution. The shoes made, he personally had to go out and find 

All this seldom took him more than eighteen hours a day — if he 
worked twenty hours he felt he had put in a couple of hours overtime. 
His output was forty-eight pairs per day. 

Although he soon outgrew his original factory and had to move into 
larger quarters three times — in 1879, again in 1880, and again in 188 1, 
when he took a three-story factory and ran his output up to 1,800 
pairs a day — he was still dissatisfied with his rate of progress. To 
reach the goal he had set himself, the proud position of the world's 
greatest shoemaker, he must travel faster or he might not win out. 

He knew the shoes he was making were good shoes. He knew 
that more people would buy them if more people learned about them. 
He knew he could develop his manufacturing facilities to meet an 
increased demand. He knew also that to attain his ambition more 
people must be told about his shoes. 

He did a revolutionary thing. In 1883 he began to advertise sys- 
tematically, persistently, extensively. Advertising then, however, 
was not always taken seriously by the public. Much of it was down- 
right fraudulent, more of it was grossly misleading, and little of it kept 
strictly within the truth. There was no association of advertising 
clubs to censor imaginative effusions of vendors of merchandise. 
Exaggeration was accepted as a matter of course. Indeed, the in- 
dividual or firm who spent money freely on advertising was often 
regarded with skepticism. Surely if the goods were all right they could 
be sold without the expenditure of thousands of dollars on printers' 


W. L. Douglas had a product of which he was proud. To show 
how proud, he decided to stamp his own picture on the sole of every 
shoe that left his factory. Of course, he encountered a storm of 
ridicule. He was accused of unconscionable personal vanity. It was 
sarcastically remarked that he was apparently more anxious to dis- 
tribute his photograph than his shoes. 

The first results were discouraging. He paid out more money than 
the increase in returns justified. But W. L. Douglas was not one of 
that large army who expect strong, healthy plants to shoot up the 
moment seed is sown in the ground. He was not building for to-day 
but for to-morrow, for the time when his portrait and name on a pair of 
shoes would commend these shoes to men and women throughout the 
world. He could stand the scoffing of those ignorant of his ambition 
and barren of his vision. His confidence never weakened, his per- 
severance never wavered. He adhered to his well-considered course, 
spending $250,000 and more annually on advertising the shoes whose 
maker was not ashamed to stamp with his own portrait. 

With what results? 

The thirty-by-sixty feet one-room factory which was started on less 
than $1,000 capital, with five employees and an output of forty-eight 
pairs of shoes a day, has developed into one of the manufacturing 
and mercantile wonders of the present time. Its capital is not $1,000, 
but $3,500,000; it occupies not one room, but a group of spacious 
buildings covering 300,000 square feet; its output is not a few pairs 
a day, but over 5,000,000 a year (17,000 pairs per day) worth over 
$20,000,000. The force of five workers has multiplied into an army 
of 4,000 workers. The leather consumed is not transported under 
the arm of the owner, for it comprises the hides of 1,860,000 animals 
yearly. Nor does the proprietor personally sell the whole output, 
for it would fill every car of a train 6| miles in length. The "acces- 
sories" called for annually include over 1,000,000 yards of cloth and 
15,000 miles of flax thread. A monument over 500 miles in height 
could be raised were a year's output of shoes stacked one on top of 

W. L. Douglas has handsomely attained his ambition. His is the 
largest shoe factory in the world under one roof producing men's, 
women's, and boys' shoes. Nor is this all; but over a hundred W. 
L. Douglas shoe stores have been established here and abroad. 

The portrait of W. L. Douglas has become one of the best-known 
trade-marks in the world and has earned for its owner greater fame 
and fortune than have fallen to the lot of his old-time scoffers. 

The plucky young man who worked eighteen hours a day to gain a 
foothold on the ladder did not later permit himself to become a mere 
shoe-making or money-making machine. His vast business interests 


did not prevent him from discharging his full civic responsibilities. 
He became mayor of his town, a State Representative, a State Senator 
and, finally, Governor of the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 
an extraordinary tribute, for he was elected on a Democratic ticket in 
a State invariably controlled by Republicans. Among other honours 
that have come to him has been the honorary degree of LL.D. 
(from Tufts College). 

No boy ever had a less auspicious start. He came into the world 
in a poor home in Plymouth, Mass., on August 22, 1845, and was only 
five when his father died. His mother was left in such straitened 
circumstances that she was obliged to give up little William Lewis 
when he was only seven years of age. At the time most boys are 
beginning school, this lad began work. He was bound for a term of 
years to an uncle who was less interested in what he could do for the 
boy than in what the boy could do for him, and the seven-year-old 
child was set to work pegging shoes in a dismal garret. So tiny was 
he that he had to stand on an empty box to reach the bench. His 
duties included also the gathering of enough wood to keep two fires 
going, a task that taxed the child's strength, and, combined with his 
general treatment, almost — but not quite — broke his spirit. When 
there were few shoes to peg, during dull seasons, the boy was permitted 
to tramp two miles to school and there spend a few hours. 

For four years he stood being cuffed and scolded and ill-treated. 
Then one day he rebelled and set off home to his mother. Her cir- 
cumstances had not greatly improved, and as the boy was too young 
(eleven) to be sent to work in the regular way, she re-engaged him to 
the uncle at $5 a month. Four more years he toiled and suffered 
amid the most heartbreaking environment. Nor did it brighten 
his lot to be denied the wages promised for his four years' servitude. 
All the uncle ever paid was $10. 

His period of bondage over, the youth took a job in a cotton mill 
at Plymouth at thirty-three cents a day. A broken leg, however, 
incapacitated him for work. But nothing could daunt his spirit or 
weaken his determination to equip himself for the battle of life. The 
moment he could use crutches he hobbled off to school, a distance of 
two miles, and every day he covered the four miles in order to increase 
his scanty knowledge. Although reared amid such depressing condi- 
tions, where matters educational were lightly considered, the boy had 
enough commonsense to feel that ignorance was as a millstone hung 
on the neck. As soon as he could discard his crutches he went to 
work on a farm under an arrangement that permitted him to attend 
school as much as possible during the winter months. 

All this William Lewis Douglas had passed through before he was 
sixteen years old. Before the average boy of his age had wrestled 


with anything more trying than school books, he had undergone the 
sufferings and encountered the difficulties of a lifetime. Only his un- 
conquerable, irrepressible determination not to remain an ignorant 
drudge buoyed him up. At sixteen he had learned some things not 
always learned at school. He had learned self-reliance, he had 
grasped the value of knowledge, he had cultivated courage, he had 
imbibed ambition. Moreover, he had learned the rudiments of a 
trade. His clean habits, his frugal living, his apprenticeship in hard 
work had built up for him an iron constitution, a body that could 
withstand abnormal physical strain. 

Winter on the farm over, he returned to his own calling. After a 
spell of making cheap brogans at Hopkinton, Mass., he decided to go 
to South Abington, Mass., and see if there was an opportunity to 
learn to make fine boots. On the train he heard the station called for 
South Braintree and, thinking it was his stop, got off. He canvassed 
the numerous small boot shops, but no one wanted an apprentice. 
It was getting dusk, and as he had not sufficient funds to obtain a 
lodging, he decided to walk to South Weymouth. He started off, 
thinking that perhaps he could get a job there. As darkness came on, 
however, he realized that when he reached South Weymouth he would 
not find anybody up. And he would have no home for the night. 
So he retraced his steps through the darkness to South Braintree. 

Here he secured a job pegging boots, which was rough, coarse 
work. He had previously applied to Anson Thayer, a noted shoe- 
maker, for work, and Thayer, on discovering him near by pegging 
boots, kept an eye on him a short time, and then agreed to take him 
in as an apprentice. Here for three years he learned to make fine 
calf boots — at $1.50 a week and his board. 

The long hours which shoemakers, in common with most other 
workmen, then toiled did not prevent him from attending evening 
classes, so eager was he to make up for his early lack of schooling. 

Out West there was a shoemaker, Zephaniah Meyers, whose shoes 
were known far and wide. Young Douglas sought him out, and under 
his distinguished tutelage he learned the art of designing and cutting 
shoes of superior style. Before long Douglas's skill began to be 
talked about. The pupil was becoming as famous in the trade as his 
master. A former resident of the Bay State, Alfred Studley, then in 
business at Golden City, Colorado, got into touch with Douglas and 
offered him a partnership. Douglas was quick to realize that this 
would afford him opportunity for experience in the selling of shoes, 
and thus before he was twenty-one years of age his name appeared on 
a shingle. Old-fashioned methods did not appeal to the progressive 
young man. Therefore, he induced his older partner to go in for 
advertising. The first Douglas shoe advertisement, the precursor of 



so many thousands on a more ambitious scale, appeared in a frontier 
news sheet in 1886. 
It read: 


If you wish to run away from the 
Indians don't go barefoot, but buy a 
pair of 

who keep constantly on hand a good 
assortment of Boots and Shoes, which 
they will sell cheap for cash. Particu- 
lar attention paid to manufacturing 
and repairing. Store on Second 
Street, opposite the Boutwell House, 
Golden City, Colorado. 

The making of shoes by machinery began to come into vogue in 
the late 6o's, and the clear-visioned Douglas was quick to see that this 
opened up an infinitely wider field for large-scale operations. He 
knew every kink of the making of shoes by hand — how to select the 
best kinds of leather for specific purposes, how to design, cut, make, 
and fit shoes. Nor had he neglected to cultivate as best he could the 
art of pleasing customers. Douglas saw that the greatest possibilities 
lay in manufacturing in large quantities, and this was feasible only by 
machinery. Along that road fortune lay. 

It was in 1870 that the man who was to make the town known all 
over the world arrived in Brockton, then North Bridgewater. He 
had no difficulty in receiving a responsible position with Porter & 
Southworth, who owned a factory where most of the work was done 
by machinery. Here his ability and industry won him promotion. 
By the end of five years he was superintendent of the plant. 

Then he decided to strike out for himself, with results already briefly 

In reply to my questions concerning his own career and the pros- 
pects for young men, Mr. Douglas said that, looking back, the 
most trying point in his career was that night when he was stranded 
on the outskirts of South Braintree in the dark, without a penny, 
without a haven for the night and without a job. 

"Servants make the worst masters," is a common saying. It is 
sometimes, perhaps it is often, true that labourers or artisans who 
become foremen, superintendents, managers, or employers expect 
more and exact more from workers than do those who begin higher up 


the scale. Men who have climbed up by working abnormally hard 
themselves are apt to have little patience with those who do not show 
similar industry. 

W. L. Douglas is not of this type. Indeed, he would be the first 
to admit that he could not have developed his colossal business had he 
not been able to inspire loyalty among his employees. He still regards 
himself as a worker and looks upon his employees simply as co-workers. 
The most satisfactory results can be obtained only when everybody 
is satisfied. He wants none of his workers to undergo such trials 
as he himself underwent when a youth. 

It may not be generally known that Mr. Douglas is the father of 
arbitration in this country. It was largely through his labours that 
Massachusetts led the country in passing arbitration and conciliation 
legislation and established a State board to administer it. As early 
as 1886, while a State Senator, he introduced a bill "to provide for 
the settlement of difficulties between employers and their employees." 
He foresaw that only by such methods could peace be preserved be- 
tween capital and labour. Too often in those days employers looked 
upon workmen merely as human material to be used exactly as other 
material was used — to the best advantage of the employer. What 
arbitration has done to maintain industrial peace and prevent grave 
disorder cannot be overestimated, and had Mr. Douglas rendered no 
other public service than this he would have deserved well of his 

Among other reforms which he brought about was the passage of 
a law compelling employers to pay all their manual workers weekly, 
a stipulation that seems almost superfluous to-day, but one that was 
sorely needed a generation ago. 

The Douglas employees are well taken care of. The services of a 
trained nurse and a physician are constantly at their command, gratis 
— the doctor may be called to the home of any employee at any time 
without charge. Mr. Douglas has donated a surgical department to 
the Brockton Hospital, has presented the City with a Day Nursery 
where working mothers may leave their children during the day, and 
is a liberal contributor to other worthy causes, although in his philan- 
thropies he is as much opposed to advertising as he is in favour of it 
in business. 

In addition to his services as local councilman and mayor, as State 
legislator and State governor (in 1905), valuable though these services 
were in raising the tone of politics, W. L. Douglas has done for business 
ethics something that should not be overlooked simply because his 
action was dictated by sound commercial considerations. I do not 
refer to his supplying the public with the kind of shoes that so many 
of them want to buy, but to his pioneer work in stamping on each 


shoe the price at which it must be sold. This clean-cut, straight- 
forward, one-price method of doing business is accepted almost uni- 
versally now, but our fathers and mothers can well remember how 
difficult, not to say impossible, it was to make sure of fair, honest 
treatment at the hands of retailers. Buying then was a matter of 
bickering and bargaining, a gamble in which the customer usually 
was not the victor. 

The Douglas system of selling direct from the factory through his 
own retail stores also marks a step forward in merchandising. 

The boy who began pegging shoes at seven is still, at seventy-two, 
pegging away at shoemaking. Only, to-day his shoes are on sale at 
over 9,000 stores and are being worn by one member of every second 
family in America. 

Verily, America is the land of romance in real life, the land where 
merit has opportunity to blossom. 


A MERICA has many merchant princes and captains of industry 

/A but only three industrial kings: John D. Rockefeller, the Oil 
-*• -^- King; Andrew Carnegie, the Steel King, and James B. Duke, 
the Tobacco King. The history of the first two is well known. 
The career of the third, with the whys and wherefores of it, is here 
printed for the first time. 

Each of the three had the same rough road to travel, the same ob- 
stacles to cleave and clear. Each used the same methods and the 
same tools — intense application, ceaseless watchfulness for opportun- 
ity, unwavering courage and self-confidence, readiness to assume 
responsibility, rigid frugality during early years, with, above all, 
infinite love of work and achievement. 

At fourteen — note the age — James B. Duke, after having experi- 
enced life in a log cabin and almost inhuman poverty, won the position 
of manager of the family's small tobacco factory — the factory which 
formed the nucleus of the greatest tobacco enterprise the world has 
ever known, an enterprise dominant not only in America but in vir- 
tually every country under the sun. 

So frugal was Mr. Duke and so determined to conserve capital for 
the development of the business that, after he was earning $50,000 
a year, he lived in a hall bedroom in New York, and ate his three 
meals daily in the cheapest lunch room in the Bowery! In his case, as 
in most others, phenomenal final success entailed phenomenal early 

Young Duke deliberately set out to do in tobacco what John D. 
Rockefeller was doing in oil. And he succeeded in becoming the 
most powerful tobacco figure in history. 

The reason? Here it is, in Mr. Duke's own modest words: 

"I have succeeded in business, not because I have more natural 
ability than many people who have not succeeded, but because I have 
applied myself harder and stuck to it longer. I know plenty of people 
who have failed to succeed in anything who have more brains than I 
had, but they lacked application and determination. 

"I had confidence in myself. I said to myself: 'If John D. Rocke- 
feller can do what he is doing in oil, why should I not do it in to- 
bacco?' I resolved from the time I was a mere lad to do a big busi- 
ness. I loved business better than anything else. I worked from 




early morning to late at night — I was sorry to have to leave off at night 
and glad when morning came so that I could get at it again. Any 
young man with common intelligence can succeed if he is willing to 
apply himself. Superior brains are not necessary." 

Long before Schwab or Morgan had dreamed of a huge steel trust, 
James B. Duke conceived the idea of a gigantic tobacco organization 
having such a volume of business as to be able to sell superior goods 
at lowered prices. Volume, he saw, was the key to industrial economy, 
efficiency, and success. As long ago as 1888 he began to lay founda- 
tions for what became, in 1890, the American Tobacco Company, 
which succeeded so well that it supplied 80 per cent, of America's 
cigarette, pipe, and chewing tobacco and snuff before the Government 
"dissolved" the so-called tobacco trust, in 191 1. 

Mr. Duke, moreover, had meanwhile crossed the Atlantic, waged a 
terrifically fierce but successful war in England and, through the 
British-American Tobacco Company, had gained for Americans con- 
trol of a similarly powerful organization in Europe, an organization 
which set up factories in Germany, England, Holland, Denmark, Fin- 
land, Belgium, Australia, China, India, South Africa, Canada, Ja- 
maica, Egypt, etc. 

The United States Government's action, however, caused the 
practical control to fall into English hands. 

"If any British manufacturers had accomplished half as much for 
British trade as was accomplished in America, they would have been 
knighted; here you are indicted and they want to put you in jail," 
declared Mr. Duke with a tinge of bitterness. "It discredits a man 
to succeed in a large way in this country nowadays. 

"Why, in North Carolina, in the part where we made cigarettes, 
the largest tobacco crop the farmers ever had up to 1890 did not 
amount to more than from $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. The crop now 
yields the farmers of North Carolina from $50,000,000 to $60,000,000 a 
year. I did my own share in making this development possible and I 
refuse to feel ashamed of it." 

Mr. Duke's share was, I might add, at least ten times that of any 
other individual. He was the dynamo that energized the whole 

The evolution of the obscure Duke tobacco business into the Ameri- 
can Tobacco Company contains all the elements dear to the writer 
of fiction — war and ruination, log cabins, dire poverty, struggles 
born of necessity, pluck and perseverance, progress, and ultimate 

James Buchanan Duke — so named after President Buchanan, last 
of the ante-bellum Democrats to hold that office — was a four-year-old 
motherless toddler on a farm three miles from Durham, N. C, when 

I -< — -y CF 

- - ■ ■ 


the war broke out, in 1861. After the struggle had been in progress 
a year or more his father joined the Confederate Army, selling out 
everything he had for Confederate money with the exception of a 
number of things which were to be paid for in tobacco, settlement to 
be made at the end of the war. The children were sent to their grand- 
father's, thirty miles from Durham. When the elder Duke returned in 
the spring of 1865, the purchaser of the farm was unable to make 
payment, but he was in possession, running the farm and occupying 
the dwelling house. There was nothing for Duke to do but to become 
temporarily a farm labourer for the other man, getting, in return, a 
portion of the crop. 

Little James B., with his father and two brothers — his mother was 
dead — lived throughout the winter in a log cabin on the farm. All 
four slept on a straw tick in a corner of the cabin. Their sister was 
given a bed at the farmhouse. 

The hardships suffered by the Duke family were almost heart- 
breaking. First Wheeler's Cavalry, of the Confederate Army, and, 
later, part of the Northern Army, had been stationed in that neigh- 
bourhood — the surrender of Johnston to Sherman took place near 
Durham. The soldiers had cleaned up everything eatable for miles 
around. Parched corn was the staple food of the people in those 
days. Washington Duke, the father, regained his farm in the spring 
and eked out a livelihood for the family by buying small quantities 
of tobacco and other goods in one district and bartering it in the 
eastern part of the State for meat and flour, which he brought back 
and peddled. 

Farmers had begun to grow tobacco, and those who owed Duke 
money before the war paid him in that commodity. He began to 
peddle it along with what he was able to grow himself. As the sons 
became old enough they helped both on the farm and at peddling. 
Having made a little headway, the Dukes bought the tobacco crops 
of other farmers and made arrangements to ship it to South Carolina, 
Alabama, and other points. By 1871 the business had grown to 
from 40,000 to 50,000 pounds a year. 

James B. had contrived to attend a free school during the fall of 
each year when work on the farm was slack; but although he was smart 
enough at his lessons, business appealed to him far more than book- 
learning. By the time he was fourteen he had shown extraordinary 
aptitude in handling and peddling tobacco. He was full of ambition. 
He was keen to build up a big trade. And so it came about that he 
was installed as superintendent of the little log factory of the Dukes. 
Here at 14, he was bossing about a score of workers and continually 
challenging the best of them to race with him at the work — there was, 
of course, no machinery then. 


By the time James was eighteen his father was worth #10,000 
or $15,000 and was anxious to send the bright youth to college. 

James astonished him by replying: "I don't want to go to college. 
I want a partnership in this business. I want to work and make 

Thinking to test the mettle of the ambitious youth, the father said 
he would give him $1,000 and let him go off on his own account for a 

The lad promptly prepared to launch out and paddle his own canoe. 

In a day or two, however, the father agreed to give James and an- 
other brother each a one-sixth interest in the business. The partner- 
ship boomed. The log factory no longer sufficed. A factory was 
built in Durham. "Duke of Durham" tobacco was finding an ever- 
widening market. 

Then, in 1878, there was a consolidation. The Dukes took into 
partnership George W. Watts of Baltimore and also the oldest Duke 
brother, Brodie L., who had established quite an extensive tobacco 
business of his own at Durham. The five partners were W. Duke 
(the father), B. L. Duke, Mr. Watts, James B. Duke, and B. N. Duke. 

The capitalization of W. Duke, Sons & Company was $70,000. 
James B. had saved $3,000 and his father lent him $11,000 to make 
up the $14,000 which each partner contributed. 

The growing of tobacco was given up and all energies were centred 
upon the manufacturing and selling of leaf bought from other farmers. 
Again the growth was rapid. But as the only field covered was 
granulated smoking tobacco, the younger partners, full of ambition, 
were anxious to break into new ground. 

The cigarette business was then in its infancy, the total sale in the 
United States being well under 200,000,000 cigarettes a year. In 
1883 the Dukes took what was to prove an epochal step: they decided 
to enter the cigarette field. To insure success, James B., although the 
youngest partner in the business, being only twenty-seven, was put 
in full charge. He had such driving power, such boundless energy, 
such physical stamina, such ambition and vision that the others 
unanimously voted to serve under his lead. 

From the start the new move proved successful beyond their 
dreams, more business being offered than they had capital to handle. 
Advertising was used most effectively; indeed, the Dukes became 
the largest advertisers of that day in the United States, their annual 
bill reaching as high as $800,000. 

Within a year a very large brick factory had to be built in Durham, 
whither the business had moved in 1875. It was decided, also, to 
invade New York with a factory for the manufacture of both ciga- 
rettes and pipe tobacco. 


James B. Duke came to the metropolis to build up the business. 
They could secure more orders than the firm had capital to handle. 
It was at this stage that Mr. Duke lived in his hall bedroom, ate 
regularly in a Bowery lunch room near the factory, and plowed back 
into the business #49,500 of the $50,000 a year he was making. Not 
that; but he insisted, against much opposition, that no other part- 
ner, married or single, be allowed to withdraw more than #1,000 a year 
salary. He was after big and ever bigger business. To facilitate 
credit and other operations, the firm incorporated in 1885. The out- 
put of cigarettes quickly mounted to a billion a year, equal to 40 per 
cent, of the total cigarette business in the country, notwithstanding 
that others had had a long start of them. 

The Alexandrian head of W. Duke, Sons & Company, Inc., how- 
ever, was still not satisfied. He had not yet reached in tobacco the 
stage Rockefeller had reached in oil. There were still other lands to 

Why not take over the principal tobacco concerns in the country, 
form one huge company, float stock and obtain capital to cover the 
whole land — and, incidentally, pave the way for the invasion of 

With Duke, dreams never long remained dreams; they were made 
to take concrete form. This one was so revolutionary that he spent 
nearly two years in bringing it to fruition. At last, in 1890, he formed 
the American Tobacco Company, which included four of the principal 
tobacco concerns in the country in addition to the Duke business. 

"What was your main idea in bringing about such a gigantic 
merger?" I asked. 

"I wanted volume and organization," he replied. "A business in 
order to succeed must serve the public better and cheaper than the 
other fellow, and to do that you must have volume. Our aim was 
to serve the people better and cheaper than anyone else, and to do 
that we had to have volume. We were not especially after competi- 
tors; we wanted to develop tobacco consumption and provide a good 
article cheaply. We thought that if we did this — and we knew we 
could do it — the majority of the public would find it advantageous 
to buy our product. 

"That was just what happened. The American Tobacco Company 
went ahead so fast that before the disintegration, in 191 1, we were 
doing a business of about #325,000,000 a year. This was 80 per cent, 
of the entire tobacco business. The goods of other concerns were 
offered by retailers all over the country, but our product was better 
and cheaper and the public naturally preferred it. 

"Another reason was that, while our firm had a very strong position 
in the cigarette end, I wanted to play a much larger part in the to- 


bacco end. In those early days the total cigarette business in the 
country was only about #8,000,000 — 2,000,000,000 cigarettes — where- 
as over $100,000,000 was spent for other tobacco." 

For the business which started in the little log factory on the Duke 
farm $7,500,000 was received in 1890! 

But that $7,500,000 secured for the American Tobacco Company 
something even more important — the services and the brains of 
James B. Duke. These services and these brains were needed. It 
was not all smooth sailing for the "trust." English manufacturers 
invaded territory supplied by America and were playing havoc with 
the export division of the business. 

Mr. Duke packed a trunk, stepped on board a steamer, in 1901, and 
landed in London. His mission was merely to lick the English manu- 
facturers to a frazzle in their own country! 

He had never been abroad before in his life. He knew nothing of 
England or of England's prejudices and practices. But did the pros- 
pect of having to fight the most plutocratic tobacco interests of 
Britain intrenched for many, many years, daunt him? Not at all. 
He was confident he could "do the trick." 

In ten days he had secured weapons to do it and had $5,000,000 
transferred by cable to clinch matters! 

"However did you manage to do it so quickly?" I asked. 

"I had nothing else to do," Mr. Duke replied, as if that explained 
his achievement fully and satisfactorily. 

"Just how did you go about your famous fight?" I persisted. I 
happened to have spent some time in England at that period and had 
vivid recollections of the nation-wide excitement that raged there, 
with the English newspapers lashing themselves into a fury over the 
Yankee tobacco invasion. 

"I went to our London office," replied Mr. Duke after indicating 
that there was nothing remarkable in what he did. "I looked over 
the product of the chief English manufacturers, learned all about their 
position, their size, and so forth. In two days I decided that I wanted 
control either of Player's or Ogden's. 

"I first went to Player's, at Nottingham, told them exactly what I 
was after and asked their terms. They named what I thought was 
too much. So I next went to Ogden's, at Liverpool. The managers 
were willing to accept the offer I made them, and within a few 
days the directors approved the deal, subject, however, to the sanction 
of the stockholders. 

"By this time the English manufacturers were thoroughly alarmed. 
They had hastily laid their heads together and formed a combination 
under the name of the Imperial Tobacco Company to fight us. They 
showed up at Ogden's the day the stockholders met and tried to queer 


my deal by offering to pay a higher price. The Ogden directors stood 
by their agreement, however, and we bought the business." 

Then the real fight began. Every manufacturer in Britain turned 
his artillery upon the Yankee-controlled Ogden's. Wholesalers and 
retailers alike joined to boycott Ogden's goods. The newspapers 
thundered against the "treason" of Ogden's in selling out to Ameri- 
cans and urged every loyal Briton to down the audacious Yankee. 

James B. Duke, however, stood by his guns. Even when sales of 
Ogden's goods dropped 50 per cent, and the Englishmen were hurrah- 
ing over their success, he never for a moment flinched. He tried 
first one selling wrinkle and then another. It was during this historic 
tobacco war that "souvenirs" were distributed lavishly in even the 
smallest packages of cigarettes. Some of the things cost almost as 
much as the tobacco. Prices, of course, were cut ruinously. And 
hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent in advertising. 

Every day the war lasted cost $3,000! 

But Duke won before a year had passed. 

While he agreed to sell out all his company's English interests to 
the Imperial, the English combine, at millions of profit, in due course 
he formed the British-American Tobacco Company and secured 
control of the export business of the Englishmen's combine, the 
Imperial Tobacco Company, so that he became and still is the domi- 
nant force in the foreign tobacco business! 

When, however, the United States Government ordered the disin- 
tegration of the American Tobacco Company, the splitting-up process 
resulted in a great many shares of the British-American Tobacco 
Company being thrown on the market, and these were grabbed up by 
English buyers to such an extent that it is now to all intents and pur- 
poses an English instead of an American concern, with the stock 
usually selling several dollars a share higher in London than in New 
York. When British-American was dominated from New York the 
company naturally favoured American goods in its conquering of 
foreign markets, but now Chinese, Turkish, Indian and other tobacco 
is pushed. The bulk of the profits, also, now go to English pockets in- 
stead of to American. Its sales of cigarettes alone approximate 
100,000,000 a day. 

Mr. Duke remains at the head of the British-American Company 
but has severed all official connection with American tobacco com- 
panies, although he remains a large stockholder in numbers of them. 

Although before the war he found it necessary to spend about half 
his time abroad, Mr. Duke's heart is still in his native land, and par- 
ticularly in the South. He conceived a gigantic project for the in- 
dustrial development of his native State and its sister, South Carolina. 
He organized the Southern Power Company to supply electric power 


for cotton mills and other plants, including street railways, lighting 
plants and other activities demanding electric current. This com- 
pany is already serving 75 towns and over 200 cotton mills operat- 
ing more than 3,500,000 spindles, while it also runs an electric rail- 
road of 125 miles. Thanks partly to this furnishing of electric 
power at reasonable cost, the Southern cotton mills have passed 
those of New England in annual output. 

Though he scraped and saved every penny possible during the long 
struggle to provide sufficient capital for the development of his 
business, and urges all ambitious young men to do likewise, Mr. Duke 
feels that he is now entitled to enjoy the comforts of the best home 
money can procure. His estate at Somerville, N. J., has 1,000 acres 
of lawns and is one of the show places in the State. 

Although rich, Mr. Duke does not believe in giving away money 
promiscuously. He declares that it requires even more study and 
investigation to distribute money wisely than to make it. His ideal 
in this direction is John D. Rockefeller, whose benefactions, he 
believes, will carry Mr. Rockefeller's name down through the ages as 
the greatest man and the greatest benefactor to humanity the world 
has yet produced. 


HOW did you come to think of putting up the largest building 
in the world ?" I asked T. Coleman du Pont, owner of the 
#30,000,000 Equitable Building of New York, the business 
home of 15,000 people, with 2,300 offices, 1,225,000 square feet of 
rentable space, 487 building employees and 59 elevators serving its 
40 floors, which rise to a total height of 548 feet, and on which New 
York reaps taxes of #9,000 every week, or almost #500,000 a year. 

"Why, someone had, I imagine, learned that anything constructive 
appealed to me," replied General du Pont, "whether it's erecting the 
greatest skyscraper in the world or only a dog kennel, whether 
building a road or a street car line, developing a coal mine or a steel 
plant, building up a powder company or creating a real farm out of 
barren land. 

"The Equitable people wanted a building on this site. I found 
they had the largest single plot in the financial heart of New York — 
the very best site in the world. The idea of erecting the largest office 
building in the world appealed to me. When I found I could get a 
long-term mortgage at a fair rate of interest and that the fundamental 
conditions were logical and the time for building economically right, 
I undertook the work. The finished undertaking speaks for itself. 

"Now that the building has been completed and its organization 
working smoothly, it does not call for my attention. I like conceiving, 
planning, organizing, systematizing, and getting a project established 
successfully. Then I want to start something else. Just now I am 
out of a job." 

Out of a job, although in addition to being interested in the running 
of the world's largest building he controls the Equitable Life Assurance 
Society with its #600,000,000 assets; controls, also, important coal 
mines in Kentucky; runs an enormous farm in Delaware and Mary- 
land; is spending #2,000,000 out of his own pocket in building a model 
highway from one end of Delaware to the other; is actively interested 
in several large hotels; said to be the political leader of the Republi- 
can party in Delaware (this he denies), member of the Republican 
National Committee from Delaware, and I do not know what else! 

"Why did you buy control of the Equitable Life from J. P. Morgan 
& Co.?" was my next question. 

"It was after the building was completed. The Equitable Society 




was the largest tenant. They had been very fair in dealing with me, 
so I thought it would not be a bad idea to buy the Equitable Life 
stock and mutualize the Society. I am a thorough believer in the 
mutualization of the company. It should have been mutualized 
years ago. I am ready and anxious to cooperate to the full in carry- 
ing out any plan of mutualization that is fair to the policy-holders and 
desired by the directors." 

The American public regards the name "Du Pont" as spelling 
powder and riches. Coleman du Pont had nothing to do with powder 
until after he had made a fortune — and he made his own fortune. At 
thirty-eight he had given up active business to enjoy a life of leisure. 

" It would be very interesting to tell just how you became associated 
with the Du Pont Powder Company," I suggested. 

"Certainly I'll tell you," he replied with his characteristic direct- 
ness and brevity. "Eugene du Pont, head of the company, had died 
and no other member of the family cared to take his place. One day 
I received a message from my cousin, Alfred I. du Pont, asking me to 
consider going into the business. After talking with Alfred, the mat- 
ter was taken up with the other members of the family in the old firm. 
None of them was willing to take on the active duties of management. 
I then got in touch with Pierre S. du Pont, who was living at Lorain, 
Ohio, and he came east. We told him of the plan. The result of the 
conference, between the members of the family in the old firm and 
Pierre S. du Pont, Alfred I. du Pont, and myself, was that we three 
younger cousins took over the concern. 

"When we took hold of it there were seven clerks in the main 
office of the company we went into. This company, however, had 
important interests in other explosive companies." 

"How many clerks are there now?" I asked. 

"I think between 1,600 and 1,700 in the main office when I left and 
I believe there are now between 2,500 and 3,000 employees in the 
main office." 

The effectiveness of a good organization was demonstrated, when 
the unfortunate war broke out in Europe, by the way the Du Pont 
Company responded to a call for an increase of output multiplied by 
100. They have anticipated many of their deliveries although it 
did take 40,000 men on construction work at one time to do it! 
There have been no strikes. 

"How was it doner" I asked. 

"The first thing we did was to amalgamate all of the many different 
companies and the scores of sub-companies controlled by the Du 
Ponts into one corporation. This meant efficiency and economy in 
every department. The consolidated concerns were systematized 
and standardized and the best methods put into practice, depart- 


ments created and the managers given responsibility and offered 
premiums for results. 

"I knew nothing of the manufacturing of powder except the general 
chemistry which I had learned at school. My cousins had this knowl- 
edge and experience. I was familiar, however, with the use of it 
commercially and had had successful experience in organizing and 
systematizing several industries. 

"We engaged the best men we could find. We paid six men very 
large salaries — and they were the cheapest labour we had, for their 
brains could make thousands for the company annually." 

For four or five years Coleman du Pont worked from early every 
morning till late every night. He thought powder, talked powder, 
ate powder, dreamed powder. In three years success was assured — 
and the company has continued to grow by enormous strides ever 

The skilful utilization of by-products was also taken up by the 
aggressive new management. To-day the Du Ponts are not only 
the largest makers of explosives, but are the world's largest manufac- 
turers of leather substitutes — 60 per cent, of the 1,500,000 automobiles 
manufactured within the last twelve months have been upholstered 
in Fabrikoid, one of its products, thus tending to keep down the price 
you and I have to pay for shoes. Its output of ivory and shell sub- 
stitutes is enormous. Moving picture films are largely composed of 
Du Pont basic materials. The wonderful anesthetic, ether, which 
enables surgeons to work painless miracles, is produced in larger 
quantities in the Du Pont plants than anywhere else in America. [I 
have in front of me a list of commodities made and sold by the con- 
cern; the total is 251.] 

It was characteristic of Coleman du Pont, however, when the 
company's success was absolutely assured, that he should get out. 
He had done the job he undertook; the business was running perfectly; 
everything had been systematized and standardized, so it possessed 
no more attraction for him! 

It will astonish the public to learn that in normal times less than 
2 per cent, of the Du Pont Powder Company's output went for mili- 
tary purposes. The company supplies the United States Govern- 
ment with the larger part of its powder requirements every year, but 
this did not mean more than about one per cent, of its entire output. 
Some 99 per cent, of the output made was sold for mining purposes, 
railroad building, road construction, quarry work, farming operations, 
sport, leather substitutes, and miscellaneous uses. 

Coleman has in him some of the stuff that makes heroes. His 
friends are sanguine he may one day become a great national figure, 
somewhat of the Roosevelt type. Physically, he is a giant— when nine- 


teen he stood six feet four inches and weighed 210 pounds. He went 
in for every form of athletics — he was stroke of the crew, captain 
of the football team, captain of the baseball nine, ran 100 yards in 
10 seconds, could break in broncos with the skill of a cowboy, was 
and is a good shot, can swim like a Trojan, was a star man in tug-of- 
war competitions, and held his own in the boxing and wrestling ring. 

"If I had been as good at my studies as I was at athletics I would, 
no doubt, have been a professor," he laughed, referring to his college 
days. So thoroughly has he kept in trim that his weight has not 
increased five pounds from the day he left school. His shoulders 
look as broad as Jess Willard's and his muscles are of veritable whip- 

He is democracy personified. His democracy is not assumed; it is 
not make-believe, artificial, or calculated. He acquired it when 
driving mules and swinging a pick down in Kentucky coal mines, 
and the inflow of millions of dollars has not swept it out of him. No 
multi-millionaire in America is easier to approach. The people who 
have worked for him worship him. He mingles with them like one 
of themselves — and is more ready to give them a helping hand than 
to trounce them. 

He is the kind of man — he did this very thing — who can collect 
fares on a trolley car for several blocks to relieve the conductor, help 
off elderly ladies with a child in each arm, and do it with the same 
interest as if a vital twenty dollars were coming to him for it at the 
end of the week. 

Also, Coleman du Pont is a man who has done things — and Ameri- 
cans like doers rather than talkers. Starting at the bottom, he rose 
to be head of a Kentucky coal property and upbuilt Central City, 
making it a place working people wanted to live in. He became head 
of other coal companies and is still largely interested in them. He 
succeeded as a steel man and then as a street-railroad builder and 
operator. Next he took the lead in making the Du Pont Powder 
Company one of the most efficient and prosperous enterprises in the 
United States. The $2,000,000 highway across the State of Delaware 
is already far advanced and when it is finished he will present it to 
the State. He is an enthusiastic trustee of the Massachusetts In- 
stitute of Technology (his Alma Mater), has contributed about 
$1,000,000 to its expansion, and names his pleasure boats "Tech" — 
"Tech Jr. II" broke all records for speed in 191 5. He farms, and 
farms successfully, on a gigantic scale, breeding the finest draft 
horses, and owns herds of registered cows, pigs, and sheep. 

While at Wilmington he threw himself into the work of creating an 
efficient National Guard, his belief being that the nation's citizens 
should fit themselves to defend their homes rather than saddle the 


country with a huge standing army. He was made Brigadier-General 
on the staff of three successive governors of Delaware. 

He was not a politician, but in order to rid Delaware of "Gas" 
Addicks, who for twelve years had prevented the state from being 
represented in the United States Senate, he jumped into the arena and 
drove Addicks out bag and baggage. He became State Chairman 
but declined the offer of a Senatorship then and also later. As a 
member of the Republican National Committee in 1908 he supported 
Taft and for a time was in charge of the speakers' bureau in that 
campaign. In 1916 his Delaware friends insisted upon bringing 
his name forward for presidential honours, but the General told them 
he did not admire their judgment! 

Coleman du Pont's father, Antoine Bidermann du Pont, was not in 
the powder company. Early in life the father, with a brother, went 
West to seek his fortune. They finally settled in Louisville, Ky., 
where Coleman du Pont was born, on December 11, 1863. The two 
brothers acquired an interest in a paper mill, street railroads, coal 
mines in western Kentucky, and had their average share of ups and 
downs. Coleman du Pont early contracted a fondness for construct- 
ing things and was sent to the famous Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology, where he received the customary thorough training as a 
mining engineer. 

From the "Tech" lie went to Central City, Ky., and learned coal 
mining from underground up. He shouldered a pick and dug coal, 
drove mules, looked after the horses, served in the blacksmith's shop, 
shod mules and horses, did carpenter work, filled a fireman's job, ran 
an engine and tackled engineering problems. He lived the life of a 
miner, mixed with miners, attended their weddings and funerals and 
other functions, and became the most popular man on the property. 
He was elected a member of the Knights of Labour, the miners' union 
of that day. 

He rose to be superintendent and was largely instrumental in 
developing the Central Coal and Iron Company into an extensive 
enterprise. From a village with but one general store and less than ten 
straggling dwellings when he started there, Central City grew to be a 
prosperous industrial town of 7,500 inhabitants with row after row of 
model dwellings for the working people. Superintendent du Pont, 
as the principal figure in the community, took the lead in remodelling 
Central City. He got the people to work with him enthusiastically in 
improving their living conditions and environment. His popularity 
and democracy enabled him to become an effective leader in this 

This he accomplished before he was thirty! At that age he left 
Kentucky for Johnstown, Pa. 


"Why did you pull up stakes and leave your native territory?" I 

"The best man in western Kentucky coal fields, the president of 
the biggest coal company there, was getting $4,000 a year," he replied. 
"I felt I wanted to try and see if I could not do better than that. I 
made up my mind to break into the biggest industry in the country. 

"Arthur J. Moxham, the steel man of Johnstown, Pa., and Tom L. 
Johnson, afterward Mayor of Cleveland, had started to work for my 
father at fifty cents a day, so I got a job as general manager with their 
concern in Johnstown, Pa." What was then the Johnson Company 
afterward became the Lorain Steel Company, now a subsidiary of 
the United States Steel Corporation. 

After five or six years, he became interested in street railways, and 
went into this on a large scale — for example, he bought the car line 
in Johnstown, and built in New Jersey, New York, and Alabama. 

"I never liked work," he remarked. 

"What?" I exclaimed. "For a man who never liked work you 
seem to have done a fair share of it." 

"I mean it. I would rather play than work any day. I worked 
and worked hard while I was at it — only because I had to. I could 
not get along any other way to do things worth doing. I don't give 
a snap for money except that you cannot get on without it — and you 
cannot do little things for your friends, to say nothing of big con- 
structive jobs, without capital." 

It was at this stage of his career that the Du Ponts of Wilmington 
called him in to take the helm and try to steer the business into pros- 
perous channels. How he succeeded is a matter of history. 

Coleman du Pont has his own theory about roads and their upkeep. 
No man has done more to arouse the American nation to the necessity 
for good roads, both as a peace and a war measure. 

"I believe that more money will be spent in the next twenty-five 
years in building roads than has been spent in the last twenty-five 
years in building railroads," he declared. "I have been building good 
roads since I was nineteen. At that age I found it was cheaper, and a 
little easier on my temper, to fill up the holes in the road than to be 
continually lifting wagons out of these holes. 

"Provision must be made for maintenance; to keep a road good it 
must be maintained. This costs money — a lot of it. My plan to 
provide for this at first and to keep down road tax (one of the banes of 
modern life), is to have the State, the county, the city, or whoever 
builds a road, set apart a width of, say, 250 feet, permanently re- 
serving, say, 50 feet in the centre for road purposes, pipe line, railways, 
telephone, etc. The building of a good road always advances the 
value of the adjacent land. Let the State, county or city, lease the 


remaining 200 feet, 100 feet on each side of the roadway, and in a very 
short time the income will far more than maintain the road. 

"As an example: About 1791, I have been told, a law was passed 
in New York State, appropriating #30,000 to build a stone road 
from Canal Street, New York City, north as far as the money would 
go. Suppose the State or city had acquired 100 feet on either side 
of Broadway from Canal Street to, say, Tarrytown, the income would 
probably amount now to $100,000,000 annually. 

"This is the system I am following in building the road through 
Delaware. I am going to give the road to the State and put the ad- 
joining property in trust, the income from which will be forever avail- 
able for roads or for other purposes." 

Coleman du Pont married a second cousin, Miss Alice du Pont, 
of Wilmington, in the days when he was working at the coal mines in 
Kentucky. He has three daughters, two of them married, and two 
sons, the elder a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Tech- 
nology, the younger at Hill school. 





THE story of the birth and cradling of the Kodak has never 
before been told. 
It is a story containing all the elements of poverty and 
pluck, of plodding and perseverance, of hope and despair. Also 
these other fitting elements: a widowed mother, broken in health, 
suddenly plunged into financial misfortunes and a young son deter- 
mined to overcome the necessity for her keeping a boarding-house. 
The picture gives a glimpse of the youth working all day as a clerk and 
then working and experimenting in a little improvised workshop all 
night, snatching an hour's sleep now and again while his chemicals 
were cooking, for several nights on end his bed knowing him 

Then came sufficient success to warrant giving up the clerical posi- 
tion and providing a modest home. Fame, even, came to the young 
inventor. His photographic plates were recognized as the best the 
world had ever produced. He branched out as a manufacturer. 

Then black, inexplicable, unfathomable failure. His formula, 
the sensation of the photographic world, refused to work. Sleepless 
investigation and experimentation were of no avail. Disaster — 
mysterious, incurable — had befallen. Ruin faced him and his little 
band of workers. 

How defeat did not daunt the young man, how his resourcefulness 
triumphed, crowns the story, the story of George Eastman, the man 
who made us all photographers, the man whose ingenuity has made 
America the fountain-head of photographic supplies for every nation 
on earth. 

Nor is the story lacking in respect of how the poor boy, on becoming 
rich, used his millions. To his titles of inventor, chemist, scientist, 
manufacturer, merchant, and financier can be added very truthfully 
that of public benefactor, for George Eastman in his later years has 
devoted almost as much time to the intelligent giving of money as to 
amassing it. 

Also, the story can be rounded out with the statement that its 
hero is the embodiment of modesty. When he goes camping for weeks 
in the woods or exploring among mountains he does his own cooking, 
and when he visits the large model farm he established in North 
Carolina for the teaching of scientific agricultural methods to Negroes 



he is not above taking tools or implements in his own hands and 
showing them how a job ought to be done. 

Now let us tell the story in detail. 

Six years after he was born, on July 12, 1854, at Waterville, N. Y., 
George Eastman's family moved to Rochester, N. Y., where his father 
died within a year. The father was the originator of the business 
college idea, and the successful establishment he founded was man- 
aged for a time after his death by a brother. But it did not survive 
its founder many years. 

George, the only son — there were two sisters — was taken from 
school when fourteen years old, and set to work in an insurance office 
at #3 a week. The mother, though a semi-invalid, was a woman of 
unusual ability and resource and played well her part in supporting 
the little family. 

"I then conceived a terror of poverty," Mr. Eastman told me 
reminiscently. "It haunted me by day and by night. I was so 
careful of my pennies that, although I clothed myself and helped in a 
small way at home, I managed to save #37.50 the first year and put it 
in the bank." 

Young as he was, he realized that hard work was the only road 
leading from the slough of poverty to the hilltop of success. He was 
soon drawing a salary of #600 a year, the maximum the insurance 
office could pay; but his employer, realizing young Eastman's worth, 
recommended him for the position of bookkeeper in a savings bank 
which paid #1,000 a year. 

An abnormally active brain, deft fingers, and a love for tools had 
induced him to become an amateur mechanic after office hours. Soon 
he had quite a little workshop where most of his spare time was spent 
in making things, especially little contrivances of original design. 
He longed to travel, to see some of the wonderful things the world 
had invented and constructed. He had an unquenchable thirst for 
knowledge. His thoughts of travel gave birth to another thought: 
he must equip himself to take pictures of the sights he would see. 

To a Rochester photographer he paid #5 for detailed instruction in 
photography, then conducted by the wet-plate process. This im- 
pressed him as an awkward, clumsy, unsatisfactory way of doing 
things. His first achievement in the field of photography was the 
construction of a handy, portable outfit. Experiments to improve 
on the wet-plate process were temporarily interrupted by promotion 
at the bank, entailing the learning and execution of more important 
and more onerous duties. 

Then came news from England of the discovery of the gelatine dry- 
plate process. Eastman immediately became interested, and though 
without any information, outside of scraps to be picked up in photo- 


graphic journals, he resumed his experiments. After repeated failures 
he began to get results — and, almost of equal importance, he grasped 
the idea that this could be made a manufacturing business, that dry 
plates could be produced and sold, whereas under the old wet process 
only materials to make them could be marketed, the buyer having 
personally to take the raw materials (nitrate of silver, colodion, and 
a piece of glass), hide himself in a dark tent, smear the glass with the 
colodion, and dip it in a bath of nitrate of silver. Few amateurs cared 
to undertake such a job for the sake of trying to take a picture which 
oftener than not would turn out a failure. Dry plates, on the other 
hand, could be manufactured in large quantities and sold. 

George Eastman discerned vast possibilities. Opportunity was 
holding out her arms to him. He would become a manufacturer of 
dry plates. 

But what of his domestic responsibilities? He was now (1879) 
drawing $1,400 a year at the bank and was the sole support of his 
mother. The new venture at best was speculative. Lots of other 
people abroad and at home had taken up the making of dry plates 
and there was no certainty that he could earn a living at it. The 
spectre of poverty awed him. 

Both intuition and ambition, however, urged him on, and his alert 
mind, his keen perception, his sound commonsense, quickly solved 
the problem. He hired a room as a workshop for a few dollars a 
month, engaged a young man to look after the routine work during 
the day, and he himself did all the delicate chemical operations at 
night, after finishing at the bank. Usually his office hours were short, 
but during interest and balancing periods, overtime was necessary, 
and on such occasions it was not uncommon for young Eastman to 
toil all night in his little factory without a chance to undress or to go 
to bed, his sleep consisting only of very brief naps while chemicals 
were working. When Saturday night came he went home to bed and 
usually slept straight through until Monday morning, aroused only 
to eat a meal or two on Sunday. 

Eastman plates, however, were rapidly becoming famous. There 
was a demand for more than he and his youthful assistant could make. 

"What was the secret of the superiority of your plates?" I asked 
Mr. Eastman. 

"I just happened to hit upon a good formula; it was more or less 
luck," he replied modestly. "Even to-day, after thirty years, the 
making of the proper emulsion is somewhat empirical, and only a few 
men can do it satisfactorily. The actions and reactions connected 
with the producing of sensitiveness are still only imperfectly under- 
stood by chemists. For example, the difference between a solution 
which makes a picture in 1, oooth part of a second and a solution that 


takes seconds to print by gaslight has not been thoroughly and scien- 
tifically defined. The securing of great sensitiveness is a matter of 
experiment, and has been worked out by only about a dozen people 
in the world to-day. I chanced to strike a combination that was very 
good at that time." 

The local photographer who had taught Eastman how to use wet 
plates readily bought the greatly improved product of his former 
pupil. While this photographer was taking pictures at the Thousand 
Islands, the head of a leading firm of importers and jobbers of photo- 
graphic supplies noticed him taking pictures without using any dark 
tent and asked him what he was doing. Told that gelatine dry plates, 
made by a young fellow in Rochester, were being used with excellent 
results, he induced Eastman to bring to New York samples of his 
product. Convinced they were superior to anything else on the mar- 
ket, the firm arranged to purchase quantities at wholesale prices, 
Eastman retaining the right to sell to retailers at a higher figure. 

Eastman advertised his plates and from that day on was oversold. 
At the end of a year he gave up his bank job, as the wholesalers, dis- 
satisfied because the shipments they received would not half fill their 
orders, made a deal to take all the plates he could make. The attrac- 
tive feature of the arrangement for Eastman was that they agreed to 
take a minimum amount each month, including the dull months of 
winter, and pay promptly. 

"Capital was not overabundant with me then," Mr. Eastman re- 
called. "I regarded the arrangement as a fine one, but subsequently 
it nearly ruined me." 

The Eastman factory branched out. Henry A. Strong, a former 
boarder with Eastman's mother (and now vice-president of the East- 
man Kodak Company), was taken in as a partner on January I, 1881. 
The force, originally consisting of one, had multiplied. The output 
rose to about $4,000 worth of plates a month, all of which were shipped 
to the wholesalers, who allowed the unsold ones to accumulate during 
the winter. 

When spring came complaints began to pour in about the poor 
quality of the Eastman plates. Every day brought more "kicks." 
The firm communicated with Eastman. He could not believe any 
fault could be found with them. However, conditions became so 
bad that he hurried to New York and on testing samples from the 
stock discovered that they had lost a great part of their sensitiveness. 
Puzzled, Eastman put on his thinking cap. Finally he noted that 
the older the plates the poorer the results — the plates had simply 
been piled on one another as received, the newer ones consequently 
being sold first. He at once realized, what till then was unknown, 
that age dulled the sensitiveness of the solution. 


Eastman unhesitatingly agreed to take back every unsold plate. 
The misfortune almost ruined his infant industry, but he was deter- 
mined that nothing faulty should go out under his name. By in- 
creasing their activities, Eastman and his co-workers quickly replaced 
the supply on the market and the sun of prosperity again shone on 

Then the bottom fell out of everything! 

Eastman could not produce a single good plate. Try as he might, 
he could not get the right sensitiveness. 

Day after day and night after night Eastman studied and worked 
and worried, desperately seeking to fathom the trouble. He had not 
changed his formula one iota; yet it would no longer work. He tried 
everything he could think of, but all in vain. He had lost his key to 

His factory must come to a standstill. There was no use manufac- 
turing plates which would not meet requirements. What could he 
do? Must he close up and seek another office job? 

"Compared with what I then went through all the subsequent 
troubles of my life have been as nothing," Mr. Eastman recounted 
the other day. But adversity could not master him. It but served 
to draw out his resourcefulness, his courage, his determination and 

Suddenly Eastman disappeared. One week, two weeks, three 
weeks, four weeks passed. Not a wheel was turning in the factory. 

Then one day Eastman returned. He carried in his head and in 
his pocket a new formula. He had been to England. He had gone 
to Mawson & Swann, of Newcastle, whose plates were the best made 
in England. He had bought their formula and had worked two weeks 
in their factory to make sure that he understood every phase and kink 
of the operation. 

Without loss of an hour the Eastman plant began to hum, and 
although the plates were not so good as formerly, they were better 
than anything else manufactured in America, and as good as the best 
obtainable abroad. The stoppage of the factory had but served to 
increase the clamour for Eastman goods, and everything was quickly 
driving along as satisfactorily as before — except that Eastman's 
hair had turned gray over the inexplicable loss of his art. 

The explanation ? Eastman, who would not rest satisfied until he 
unearthed the cause, found that he had been using from the very start 
one particular batch of gelatine for one delicate process in the making 
of his emulsion and that it had given out. No other gelatine he could, 
obtain would give the same results — just why or how he could not 
analyze. Every other consignment he tried was of no use; it would 
not work with his formula. 


From the one room of 1879-80, the Eastman factory developed. 
They had moved into a small building of their own after the partner- 
ship with Strong was formed in 188 1, and in 1882 it had to be doubled. 
The making of dry plates was recognized as a very profitable business, 
but so many concerns were attracted to the field that prices fell and 
the market became oversupplied. By 1884 the outlook had become 

Instead of brooding, Eastman pondered how to improve matters. 
From the start he had had a mania for improving everything handled. 
This time he set himself the problem of finding a substitute for glass. 
With characteristic foresight, he realized that the greatest future in 
the photographic business was to be in the amateur field. If he could 
only make the taking of photographs simple enough there would be no 
bounds to the potential demands. 

Securing the services of William H. Walker, who had given up the 
dry-plate business because of its apparently poor future, Mr. Eastman 
began experimenting with film photography. The problem involved 
not only the creation of a satisfactory film, but a portable contrivance 
to hold it. Their joint efforts to coat flexible material with sensitive 
emulsion proved successful, as also did their construction of a holder 
for the roll of film. Innumerable technical and chemical difficulties 
had to be overcome, but sufficient progress was made to justify the 
incorporation, in October, 1884, of the Eastman Dry Plate and Film 
Company, which later bought the European patents from Strong, 
Eastman, and Walker. 

It was in April, 1885, that the first roll holders with paper film 
were put out and Mr. Walker was despatched to England to open a 
branch there. Their roll holder with negative paper was a real com- 
mercial article, the only workable thing of its kind, although the idea 
of a roll holder had been patented the year Mr. Eastman was born. 

This forward step, however, did not satisfy Eastman. Why not, 
instead of merely selling the roll holder and film to be inserted in 
existing cameras, invent a camera that could be sold loaded so that 
the novice could snap pictures? This was the origination of the fa- 
mous Eastman slogan; "You press the button, we do the rest" 

This camera was called the Kodak. It was born in June, 1888. 

"Why did you choose the name Kodak?" I asked Mr. Eastman. 
"What does it mean?" 

"It does not mean anything," he replied. "We wanted a good 
strong word, one that could not be misspelt or mispronounced and, 
most important of all, one that could be registered as a trade-mark 
that would stand all attacks — we had had serious trouble before then 
through infringements and imitations of our product and the names 
we used." 


The first Kodaks were sold with a roll of 100 sealed exposures 
and cost $25. When the whole 100 had been used, the camera 
could be returned to Rochester or taken to a dealer who forwarded 
it to headquarters. The film had to be taken out in a dark room. 

The Kodak threw photography open to the whole world. 

Of course, the Kodak of 1888 was not the Kodak of to-day. One 
hundred pictures had to be taken and developed before the results 
could be seen. The paper films used had to be handled by experts, 
and in other respects they were not quite satisfactory. 

Mr. Eastman spent much brain-sweat in trying to discover a sub- 
stitute. He described minutely his ideas to a clever young chemist 
who, after much experimenting, evolved a honey-like substance, a solu- 
tion of guncotton and wood alcohol. This was not what they were 
after, but Mr. Eastman at once saw that this substance might be 
worked into a substitute for paper and into a transparent film, a long- 
cherished object. Experimentation revealed that the best way to 
make transparent films of uniform thickness was to spread a thick 
solution evenly along glass tables, and apparatus was at once con- 
structed for making films on tables 100 feet long. The film strips 
could then be cut to any desired length. 

From Edison's laboratories came an inquiry as to whether it was 
true that the Eastman Company had invented a transparent film; 
if so, Mr. Edison wanted some immediately. 

This film made the motion picture possible. Indeed, when Mr. 
Edison tried to sustain one of his early " movie " machine patents the 
judge declared that the principal part of the invention lay in the film. 
Mr. Edison since has acknowledged the part played by Eastman in 
the birth of moving pictures. 

The Eastman Company was immediately swamped with photo- 
graphic orders. A great many amateurs had dark rooms and could 
thus do their own developing. Different sizes of Kodaks were 
manufactured to hold rolls of a dozen films. Hundreds of additional 
workers had to be employed, and Kodak Park, since become famous 
throughout the world, was opened. 

How to overcome the necessity of having a dark room to re-load 
the camera and for development purposes was the next hurdle. Mr. 
Eastman got up a special line of cameras which employed a film having 
black paper attached to the roll at each end. This permitted of day- 
light re-loading, but another inventor, Samuel N. Turner, devised the 
now-familiar method calling for a window on the back of the camera 
and black paper running the whole length of the film with a number 
for each picture. He was paid $40,000 for his little contrivance, a big 
sum in those days — 1894. 

The next milestone in the path of progress was the invention of 


the developing machine, in 1902. This was the work of a young man, 
Arthur W. McCurdy, then private secretary to Alexander Graham 
Bell. He had almost given up in despair, after many months of 
unfruitful toil, when he brought his contraption to Mr. Eastman and 
was shown how it was unpractical. The idea was all right, but there 
was a fatal flaw in adopting it for practical purposes. Mr. Eastman 
explained matters to him, advised him to continue his efforts and re- 
turn when he had succeeded. McCurdy went straight to the Kodak 
experimental room and within twenty-four hours again submitted 
his achievement to Eastman. From that day to this he has not needed 
to do another stroke of work; he has drawn a handsome royalty from 
the Kodak people ever since and is now in retirement in Vancouver, 

A non-curling film was perfected in 1904, and this seemed to mark 
the final development in photographic appliances. 

Nothing further of importance was discovered until 1914, when the 
Autographic Kodak was announced. When its inventor, Henry J. 
Gaisman, first approached Mr. Eastman, his ideas were not practicable, 
but, on having the defects pointed out, he went at it again; turned 
down once more, he returned time after time, always exuberantly 
enthusiastic, and finally went off with a check for $300,000, refusing 
to have anything to do with any royalty arrangement. 

The growth of the Eastman Kodak business has been one of the 
commercial wonders of the world. From one assistant, Eastman's 
force has expanded to 13,000, not including over 10,000 dealers deriv- 
ing the whole or part of their livelihood from handling Eastman 
products. Kodak Park Works at Rochester comprise ninety build- 
ings, with fifty-five acres of floor space, including one building 740 
feet long. The other four factories also are located in Rochester, the 
whole employing 8,500 workers. These workers represent 22 distinct 
industries and 229 different occupations, as classified by the United 
States Census! 

Before George Eastman began to sleep in his clothes at night in his 
one-room shop, America imported all its photographic materials. 
Within the last forty years — -and particularly within the last twenty 
— the Eastman Kodak has brought a stream of gold from every 
part of the world to this country, filling the pay envelopes of many 
thousands of workers and enriching investors m Eastman securities. 
The Kodak rules the whole camera world, a tribute to American in- 
ventive, scientific, and mechanical genius, but more particularly a 
tribute to George Eastman. 

The innate modesty of Eastman has kept his achievements from 
being more generally recognized. Lord Kelvin, the greatest scientist 
of the last generation, regarded Eastman as a chemist and scientific 


inventor of unique standing, and for years cooperated with him as 
one of the Eastman Company directors. Eastman's rise over innu- 
merable difficulties, the ever-increasing demands for his products, 
and the world-wide reputation of everything bearing the Eastman 
stamp have been due to a rare combination of brains, industry, and 
ambition to provide nothing but the best, no matter what the cost. 
Millions of dollars have been spent not only in continuous experiments 
to improve quality, but in providing experts to test rigidly every 
cent's worth of material leaving the plant. "Excelsior" has been the 
motto throughout. 

Like most other notably successful American enterprises, it became 
a target for the puny-brained politicians who were swept ofF their 
feet by the "trust-busting" madness. To be big was a crime. For 
Americans to turn out a product better than anything else in the 
world and to build up an organization of world-wide ramifications 
was accounted a criminal offence. When Washington announced 
that the Eastman Kodak was to be attacked, the company offered 
to change any of its methods not satisfactory to the Department of 
Justice, but a voluntary adjustment would not have afforded sufficient 
political fireworks. These proceedings are still dragging along, al- 
though events abroad and at home have thoroughly chastened the 
"trust-busting" spirit and have demonstrated the necessity for large 
business units. 

Of course, the Eastman people strove with all their might to become 
the undisputed leaders in their industry. Like John D. Rockefeller 
in oil, James B. Duke in tobacco, Theodore N. Vail in telephony and 
other giants, Eastman fought competitors tooth and nail and doubt- 
less employed methods not in harmony with the resurrected Sherman 
Law; but these methods were common and accepted as perfectly 
legitimate at the time, even by successive Attorney Generals. 

George Eastman has little love for money except as an instrument 
for accomplishing worthy aims. He has always lived unostenta- 
tiously. Having no children of his own — he is a bachelor — he has 
become a sort of father of his city. His gifts to Rochester have in- 
cluded large sums to the University of Rochester and to the General 
Hospital, while other benefactions have been made to the Hahnemann 
Hospital, the Homeopathic Hospital, the Friendly Home, the Chil- 
dren's Hospital, the Y. M. C. A., the Y. W. C. A., and the City Park. 
He is providing a dental dispensary for children which will be perhaps 
the finest in the country. He has spent both time and money in 
securing good civic government, one of his steps toward that end 
having been the establishment of the Bureau of Municipal Research. 
He is erecting a building for the Chamber of Commerce. He also 
tcok a leading part in the organization of the Rochester Art Com- 


mission and has personally striven to adorn the city and its public 
buildings and parks. His love of art is equalled only by his fondness 
for good music, in the cultivation of which he has been active, his 
efforts to give Rochester a superior orchestra having been only one 
of his activities in this direction. 

He has also distributed money freely outside of Rochester, but 
usually anonymously. He was one of the late Booker T. Washington's 
ardent supporters, and his farm in North Carolina is supplementing 
the practical training of Negroes carried on at Tiiskegee. 

His own employees have been Mr. Eastman's special care. Kodak 
Park Works is an example of how attractive a large plant and its 
environment can be made. Moreover, he has enabled hundreds of 
the older employees to amass a competency through ownership of 
Kodak stock, while his annual distributions to all classes of employees 
have been notable — the latest wage dividend approximated $90x5,000. 

Although I spent hours with Mr. Eastman I could not draw from 
him one fact about his benefactions. All he would admit was: 

"I have believed in trying to do some little things as I have gone 
along. I don't believe in men waiting until they are ready to die 
before using any of their money for helpful purposes." 

Incidentally, Mr. Eastman was one of the largest individual sub- 
scribers to the Liberty Loan. 

George Eastman is an excellent specimen of the type of "Men Who 
Are Making America." 



YOU and I think of inventors as geniuses who suddenly are hit 
by a brilliant idea from out the air and forthwith patent it in 
workable form. We picture them as eccentric fellows who 
for the most part sit around waiting for a stroke of inspiration. 

Edison is not of that type. He angrily resents being called a 
genius or a wizard or a magician. "Genius is one per cent, inspiration 
and 99 per cent, perspiration," he declares. "The three great essen- 
tials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, 
stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense." 

Edison is acclaimed as the world's greatest inventor. After he 
had achieved success as an inventor and manufacturer, he deliberately 
dropped everything else and adopted invention for his profession and 
life work, in 1876. After that he simply had to make good or become 
a laughing-stock. Edison made good. 

He is also the world's greatest experimenter. He tries thousands 
and thousands of ways — sometimes fifty thousand — to do a thing, and 
never quits, even should it take ten years, until he has either found a 
way or proved conclusively that it cannot be done. 

Edison has worked harder and slept less than any other great man 
in history — he once worked continuously, without a moment's sleep, 
for five days and nights, while perfecting the phonograph. He has 
conducted more experiments than any other human being. He has 
taken out upward of 100 patents in one year and has secured a 
grand total of over 1,000 patents, a record unapproached by any 
other individual in this country or abroad. 

He has tasted the bitterest defeats and lost all his money time and 
again. He spent five solid years and over #2,000,000 creating 
a plan and a plant to extract ores by magnets from powdered rock, 
only to find that the discovery of unlimited quantities of rich Mesaba 
ore rendered his whole process profitless and it had to be abandoned, 
leaving him grievously in debt, but unbroken in spirit. Again, 
after years of toil on his electric storage battery, he began its manu- 
facture on a large scale, but flaws were discovered in a small percentage 
of the output, and although buyers clamoured for more shipments, 
he refused to market a single additional battery until he had sweated 
and studied and experimented with it for five more years, when, this 
time, he achieved his desired goal. 



Difficulties which would drive normal mortals to despair only light 
up Edison's enthusiasm and stimulate his determination to triumph. 
If a thing won't work one way, he tries it another way — 5,000 other 
ways, 10,000 other ways, 20,000 other ways, if necessary. He has 
sent botanists, mineralogists, chemists, geologists, and others into 
the most remote, uncivilized nooks of the earth in search of some 
fibre or other elusive material which the indefatigable experimenter 
calculated might prove the missing link in a chain of experiments — one 
expert circumscribed the globe in search of a species of bamboo which 
Edison figured might supply just the right filament for his in-the- 
making incandescent lamp, while other explorers combed the fast- 
nesses of South America for a fibre which might still better serve the 

With Edison, inventing is the result of successful experimenting on 
definite lines. His greatest achievements have not been in originating 
ideas for new achievements, but in carrying to fruition what others 
have dreamed of accomplishing but failed to attain. Edison is a 
doer rather than a dreamer. He, too, of course, has dreamed, but his 
fame rests less upon his dreams than upon what he has done. 

He did not originate the telegraph or the telephone; he was not the 
inventor of electric lighting; the electric railway was not first thought 
of by him; others had made moving pictures — of a kind; the recording 
of the human voice for reproduction was not an idea born in his brain; 
nor was he the first to think of storing electric energy in a battery. 

But without Edison the world would not be enjoying these adjuncts 
of progress as it is to-day. His has been the master mind, his the 
master hand, in bringing them to flower and fruition. Where others 
failed, he has succeeded. Where others brought forth only ideas, 
he has created actualities. While all predecessors and contemporaries 
were working along the wrong track, Edison, by his ceaseless industry, 
his matchless insight and tuition, his unequalled knowledge — gathered 
in part from complete familiarity with the past but far more from his 
infinite investigations, experiments, and experience — discovered the 
right track and pursued it relentlessly, undaunted, year after year, if 
need be toiling twenty hours a day, seven days a week, and sacrificing 
in the cause every penny of his fortune. For Edison time has no 
meaning when he is striving toward a goal; if the end takes ten days 
or ten months or ten years, what's the difference? The end is the 

He has a philosophy of failure which all of us might well adopt. 
If after thousands of attempts, the expenditure of hundreds of thou- 
sands of dollars, and the apparent waste of precious years, he has only 
failure for his reward, he does not complain, he does not feel downcast. 
When his assistants commiserate with him and themselves on the 



futility of all their pains, Edison will cheerfully reprimand them thus: 
"Our work has not been in vain; our experiments have taught us a lot. 
We have added something to the total of human knowledge. We 
have demonstrated that it cannot be done. Isn't that something? 
Now let's take up the next thing." 

That is Edison. Don't waste time and vitality bemoaning the past 
when the present and the future are calling so loudly to have great 
and small things accomplished. Look forward, not backward. 

Not long since a minister asked a number of successful men: "What 
are the greatest safeguards against temptation?" Edison replied: 
"I have never had any experience in such matters. I have never had 
time, not even five minutes, to be tempted to do anything against 
the moral law, civil law, or any law whatever. If I were to hazard a 
guess as to what young people should do to avoid temptation it would 
be to get a job and work at it so hard that temptation would not exist 
for them." 

Edison literally works day and night. At crucial points in his ca- 
reer, when the invention, the manufacture, or the installation of some 
contrivance has demanded every ounce of his energy and every mo- 
ment of his time, he has not touched a bed for weeks and weeks, con- 
tenting himself with lying down for a brief spell on a floor with a book 
for a pillow, or curled up on a roll-top desk, or stretched on a pile of 
metal pipes. Remonstrated with once for not relaxing his labours and 
devoting some part of his life to recreation and amusement, Edison 
replied, not so very long ago: 

"I already have a schedule worked out. From now until I am 
seventy-five years of age, I expect to keep more or less busy with my 
regular work, not, however, working as many hours or as hard as I 
have in the past. At seventy-five I expect to wear loud waistcoats 
with fancy buttons, also gaiter tops; at eighty I expect to learn how to 
play bridge whist and talk foolishly to the ladies. At eighty-five I 
expect to wear a full-dress suit every evening at dinner, and at ninety 
— well, I never plan more than thirty years ahead." 

Inventors proverbially are eccentric. Edison is not an exception. 
He has not been inside a tailor's shop or had a tailor's tape applied to 
him in a quarter of a century! Some time before the close of the 
nineteenth century he was inveigled into allowing a tailor to measure 
him for a suit of clothes and every subsequent suit has been made 
from what he calls "that jig pattern!" 

He is likely to appear at his laboratory in a light summer suit in 
the middle of winter. But he does not freeze to death, as Mrs. Edison 
has ingeniously contrived to supply him with three or four layers of 
underwear! Edison is reported to have received a foreign dignitary, 
delegated to cross the Atlantic and present Edison with a signal 


honour, almost stripped to the waist, his hands and face smeared 
with grime and grease — and it had taken supreme diplomacy and 
pressure on the part of his colleagues to persuade him to receive the 
visitor at all, so immersed was Edison in a vital experiment. 

Last year when a university conferred upon him the honorary 
degree of LL.D., it had to be done by telephone — he was too busy to 
go to accept the honour. One of the greatest universities in England 
announced that it would honour Edison, but he would not give up 
his work long enough to cross the ocean for the ceremony, and the 
proffered degree was withdrawn. Once he received a greatly prized 
gold medal in New York and mislaid it on the ferry-boat on his way 
back to his Jersey home. "I have a couple of quarts more of them 
at home," he commented. 

When France, at the Paris Centennial Exposition in 1889, made him 
a member of the Legion of Honour, at a memorable ceremony, Edison 
balked when it came to placing the sash upon him and positively 
refused to have anything to do with it. He did consent to wear the 
coveted little button in the lapel of his coat, but whenever he was to 
meet Americans he turned down the lapel so that they couldn't see 
the button— "I didn't want to have my fellow-countrymen think I 
was trying to show off," was his explanation. 

Edison often begrudges the time he is impressed into wasting in 
receiving visits from foreign potentates and other celebrities. He is 
of the common people and his heart is with the common people. 
Perhaps the most pleasing tribute he ever received was during the 
great Preparedness Parade in New York in May, 1916, when the route 
of the procession resounded with shouts of "Edison! Edison! Edi- 
son!" as the veteran inventor marched at the head of his colleagues 
on the United States Naval Consulting Board. He was to have 
dropped from the ranks at a certain point, but, though the heat was 
intense, he refused to fall out. "I like it and they seem to be liking 
me," was his ultimatum to those who sought to persuade him to stop 
and rest. The acclaim of his fellow-citizens, this spontaneous, en- 
thusiastic reception mile after mile, went straight to his heart. The 
sincere applause of the multitude, of the rank and file of his own 
people, were more gratifying to Edison than all the diplomas and 
parchments and medals in the world. 

Edison, like his friend Henry Ford, has always sought to produce 
things that would benefit the masses. Has any other living being 
added so much to the comfort, enjoyment, enrichment of the lives 
of his fellow mortals ? 

Edison has stretched out his hand, seized hold of the evanescent 
sounds of the human voice, and made them imperishable. 

Every phase of the panorama of human life, formerly gone from 


sight with its own passing, can now be preserved and reproduced for 
posterity as well as for the day-by-day edification or amusement of 
the people by means of Edison's invention of moving pictures. 

That the human voice can span continents and bridge oceans is 
in no small measure due to Edison's early achievements in telephony. 

The flooding of the world with light second only to that of the sun 
itself is another of Edison's gifts to humanity. 

Edison has been and is the benefactor of the common people. Not 
only has he given them, for a nickel, entertainments previously beyond 
their reach; not only has he brought music into their homes, but one 
of his consuming ambitions to-day is to lighten the burden and the 
drudgery of every housewife in the land through the invention of 
simple, inexpensive devices for performing many domestic tasks 
which now bear heavily upon overworked mothers and other harassed 
domestic workers. If he lives long enough — and he is come of an 
extraordinarily long-lived race — he promises to achieve as much in 
this field as he has in others. 

Milan, Ohio, has the distinction of being the birthplace of Edison. 
The book of life opened for him on February 11, 1847. His paternal 
ancestors were Dutch, but the family had lived in America for several 
generations. The members were noted for their longevity. The 
family, of modest circumstances, moved to Gratiot, Michigan, when 
Thomas Alva was seven. There the elder Edison dabbled in farming, 
the lumber business, and the grain trade. The boy had such an ex- 
traordinarily shaped head that the doctor predicted brain trouble! 
The teacher at school pronounced little Thomas, who was always at 
the foot of the class, "addled," and at the end of three months he was 
given up as too stupid to receive instruction. That was all the regular 
schooling Edison ever received, his instruction thereafter being at- 
tended to by his gifted mother. 

He did some queer things. When six he was missing for a while 
and was found sitting on goose eggs trying to hatch them. He built 
a fire in a barn, watched it go up in flames and was publicly whipped 
in the village square as a warning to other boys. He had part of a 
finger chopped off, was nearly drowned, and, becoming interested in 
chemistry, when about ten gorged another boy with seidlitz powders, 
confident that the gas generated would cause the boy to fly! That 
was, apart from his egg-hatching, his very first experiment. Before 
he was eleven he had gathered together a fearful and wonderful chemi- 
cal "laboratory" in the basement of his home, and, to make sure that 
nobody would interfere with his materials, he marked every one of 
his 200 bottles " POISON." 

Then, with another boy, he started cultivating ten acres of his 
father's farm and sold as much as $600 worth of produce in one year. 


He became newsboy on the train running between Port Huron and 
Detroit, started two small stores in Port Huron in charge of other 
youths, met with no great success, and turned to extending his news 
vending by installing newsboys on other trains. His ambition was 
equalled only by his industry, as is shown in Dyer and Martin's 
excellent "Life of Thomas A. Edison," from which these early facts 
are drawn. 

He started a laboratory on his train, using part of the unventilated 
smoking car which was never used by passengers. Next he installed 
a printing press in the car and actually collected, wrote, set up and 
printed all the news for his Weekly Herald and sold as many as 
400 copies weekly, a feat which the London Times described as notable 
in that this was the first newspaper ever printed on a train in motion. 
His ingenuity manifested itself in diverse ways. During the War 
between the States he bribed railway telegraph operators to send 
bulletins to each station announcing the most sensational events of 
the day with the result that when "Newsy" Edison came along with 
his papers there were crowds waiting at every station to buy them. 
On special occasions he charged exorbitant prices. His laboratory 
was growing steadily, until one day the train lurched badly, a stick 
of phosphorus fell on the floor and the car caught fire. The enraged 
conductor pitched Edison and all his belongings off at the next stop, 
boxing Edison's ears hard enough to cause the acute deafness from 
which he has ever since suffered. 

A printer's devil persuaded Edison to join him in changing his 
publication's name to Paul Pry, which contained so pointed person- 
al gossip that one victim threw the youthful editor into the river 
and Paul Pry died shortly after. Edison's literary abilities had 
been greatly aided by his extremely zealous reading in the Detroit 
Library during the long period he spent in that city between the early 
arrival and the late departure of his train. His method was to tackle 
the books shelf by shelf and read everything indiscriminately. 

His chemical experiments led him to take up telegraphy and he 
and a chum erected a wire between their homes and enjoyed talking 
over it nightly until a stray cow pulled the wire down. Edison having 
bravely saved the life of the local station agent's child by snatching it 
from an approaching train — at the expense of numerous cuts — the 
grateful father ofFered to teach young Edison telegraphy. For six 
months Edison worked eighteen hours daily. He became proficient 
enough to build a line a mile long from the station to the village and 
was appointed telegraph operator at Port Huron. As he used to leave 
messages unsent and undelivered while he conducted experiments, 
his services were dispensed with. 

Edison's next move, in 1863, was eventful. He found a job as 


railroad telegraph operator at the Grand Trunk Station of Stratford 
Junction, Canada. Here also his experiments landed him in trouble. 
Night operators had to tap the word "six" every hour to the superin- 
tendent to make sure they had not gone to sleep. Edison promptly 
invented a contrivance which clicked off the required signal every hour 
so that he could enjoy snoozes in comfort! One night a train was 
allowed to pass, and as another train was coming from the opposite 
direction on the same track, Edison, having frantically but vainly 
tried to send the engine driver a warning, promptly bolted for the 
border. For the following five years he was a roaming telegraph 

Sometimes he almost starved. His inventive talent, however, 
found vent every now and again. One office was terribly overrun 
with rats and Edison fitted up a little device which electrocuted 
them by the score. A similar invention for electrocuting cockroaches 
at another office was written up in the newspapers and Edison was 
immediately dismissed. A more ambitious invention during this 
period enabled the dots and dashes to be recorded on strips of paper 
at lower speed than sent, a contrivance which, years later, led Edison 
to invent the phonograph. 

He drifted in time to Boston where he bought Faraday's complete 
works and applied himself with intense diligence to experimentation. 
His first patent was taken out on June 1, 1869; it was designed to 
enable Congress to record and count votes instantaneously, through 
each member pressing a button at his desk. The proud inventor 
proceeded to Washington expecting to be received with open arms, 
but left bitterly disappointed, having been peremptorily told that the 
inordinate time consumed in taking a vote was one of the accepted 
methods of delaying progress and harassing opponents. This initial 
experience determined Edison to confine his efforts ever after to 
things for which there would be a keen and wide demand. 

While in Boston Edison made a stock ticker, established a small 
stock quotation business, and also introduced a method of telegraphing 
between business concerns, a method so simple that anyone could 
understand and work it. 

How great a contrast was there between Edison's entry into New 
York in 1869 and his reception in 1916, when he was the hero of the 
Preparedness Parade! 

So hard up was he on leaving Boston that he had to let his books, 
instruments, etc., remain as security for debts. Arriving by boat in 
New York he had not a cent to buy food, for which he was starving. 
Seeing a tea-taster at work, Edison begged him for some tea and this 
formed his first breakfast in New York. 

Three days later Edison was sitting in the offices of the Gold & 


Stock Telegraph Company watching the gold ticker at work — specu- 
lation in gold was then at fever pitch. Suddenly scores of boys 
rushed into the place excitedly explaining that the ticker in their 
employers' offices had stopped working. Dr. Laws, head of the 
concern, also arrived breathless. The apparatus had broken down. 
Edison calmly told Laws that he thought he could fix it and proceeded 
to do so. The grateful and astonished doctor asked the stranger his 
name, and next day, after a searching quizzing-bee, put him in 
charge of the whole business at a salary of $300 a month. When the 
hungry, penniless, out-of-work operator heard the amount he was to 
receive he nearly fainted. 

In his new surroundings Edison found vent for his genius in im- 
proving the ticker and bringing out many allied patents. He also 
at the same time formed the firm of "Pope, Edison & Company, Elec- 
trical Engineers and General Telegraphic Agency," and began to do 
important work for the Western Union Telegraph Company. When 
the head of the Western Union asked Edison how much he would 
consider reasonable for a certain patent, Edison tried to summon up 
enough courage to ask $5,000, but the sum was so much that he could 
not bring himself to name it. 

"How would $40,000 strike you?" he was asked. 

Edison, being very hard of hearing, could not believe his ears. 
He received a check for #40,000 but didn't know what to do with it. 
Finally, he went to the bank it was drawn on, laid it down unen- 
dorsed, and waited to see what would happen. He suspected that 
the Western Union executive was playing a trick on him and that the 
$40,000 offered was a joke. Of course, the teller would not cash the 
check because he did not know Edison, but by going to the Western 
Union office he got a clerk to return to the bank with him and identify 
him. The teller meanwhile had been tipped off and he paid over the 
$40,000 in small bills, the whole forming a big parcel. Edison trun- 
dled home with it, nervous as to what might happen, for he had no 
safe. Next day, however, they took compassion on him and showed 
him how to open a bank account. 

With this capital he started a plant of his own in Newark, declaring 
he did not like the idea of "keeping money in solitary confinement." 
He was soon employing fifty men making stock tickers and other 
instruments. Business prospered to such an extent that two shifts 
were employed. Edison acted as foreman of both, working night and 
day with only occasional half-hours for sleep in out-of-the-way corners 
of the shop. Here he began in earnest his life of invention. Among 
the earliest of his patents was an automatic telegraph which could 
send and receive 3,000 words a minute and record them in Roman 
type. He also took hold of a typewriting machine and developed it 


into the practical Remington now of universal use. In 1873 he went 
to England to introduce his automatic telegraph and also his quadru- 
plex telegraph instrument, which had cost him prolonged study and 
experiment. The mimeograph was another important achievement 
of the early 7o's. At one time forty-five different inventions were 
being worked on in Edison's plants — by this time he had five shops 

His early "system" of bookkeeping was at least original, but it did 
not do credit to his inventive powers. All bills were slapped on one 
spike and not one of them was paid until legal proceedings had been 
taken; then, when the order for payment came along, Edison paid 
the bill plus the legal costs and transferred the bill to another spike. 
Tax assessments were treated the same way, but on one occasion it 
was impressed upon him that if he did not pay a certain tax by a 
specified date 12 per cent, additional would be levied, involving 
quite a sum. On the very last day of grace Edison took up his station 
at the end of the long queue, but when he finally got to the tax re- 
ceiver his mind was so full of other matters that he forgot his own 
name and, being absolutely unable to recall it, was summarily turned 
back to the end of the line, with the result that, as closing time came 
before Edison could again reach the desk, he had to pay the extra 

For his famous carbon telephone transmitter Edison was offered a 
lump sum of $100,000 from the Western Union, then in a death-grapple 
with the Bell people. Edison, knowing his weakness for making 
money go, stipulated that the sum be paid him at the rate of $6,000 
annually for seventeen years, an arrangement which the W. U. 
jumped at, for this was virtually only interest on the money. He 
repeated this extraordinarily poor business arrangement some time 
later when the Western Union offered him $100,000 for his electro- 
motograph. The Western Union did not lose anything by these 
deals with Edison, for the company sold out to the Bell interests for a 
big figure, including a substantial royalty on the use of certain of its 
patents. English interests cabled Edison an offer of "30,000" for 
certain of his apparatus and Edison promptly accepted, well pleased 
with the sum. When the money arrived he received not the $30,000 
he had expected, but £30,000 — $150,000. 

One of his most notable inventions worked at the very first experi- 
ment. This was the phonograph, originated in 1877, and the machine 
to-day is one of the precious exhibits in the South Kensington Museum, 
London. When Edison's workmen heard the little hand-turned 
cylinder reproducing the human voice they were positively incredu- 
lous; they were quite sure that Edison, always fond of a joke, was play- 
ing a trick upon them, that ventriloquism was the explanation. It was 


not until they had examined the little machine microscopically and 
made sure that there were no wires connecting it with any other contri- 
vance and that no ventriloquist was near by that they finally accepted 
the entrancing truth that their chief had scored a historic bull's-eye 
at the very first shot. 

It was characteristic of Edison, however, that he spent ten years 
improving it before he exploited it commercially, among his final ses- 
sions on it being one of five days and nights without a moment's sleep. 

The hardest and perhaps the greatest of all Edison's achievements 
was begun in the late 70's, and now his labours in this field are yielding 
employment to hundreds of thousands of wage earners and many 
hundreds of millions of capital. I refer, of course, to his system of 
generating, regulating, measuring, and distributing electricity for light, 
heat, and power. In evolving his incandescent lamp Edison ransacked 
the earth for suitable materials. He tested 6,000 vegetable growths, 
brought from all parts of the globe in his search for an ideal substance 
for use as a filament inside the glass bulb. At first a piece of carbon- 
ized cotton thread was used, later a certain kind of bamboo yielded a 
better fibre, but finally all carbon filaments were discarded in favour 
of metallic ones. 

The immensity of Edison's task in inventing and establishing the 
first electric lighting plant in New York, at Pearl Street, in September, 
1882, involving not only the construction of absolutely new forms of 
machinery and apparatus, but in laying the necessary wires, in origi- 
nating methods and apparatus for regulating and sub-dividing the 
current, in inducing people to agree to the installment of the little- 
tested invention, and in solving a thousand problems never solved 
before — the immensity of this burden, I say, cannot be grasped at 
this day when a generation of experience and familiarity with electric 
lighting has led us to accept everything pertaining to it as a matter 
of course. At the end of 1882 only 225 buildings in New York had 
been wired, including the offices of J. P. Morgan, who became one of 
Edison's admirers and supporters. For three months the current 
was supplied free to those brave enough to allow their places to be 
threaded with the mysterious wires which, it was feared, might start 
fires or cause explosions at any moment. 

The story of the multiple-arc system, of the revolutionary three- 
wire system which saved 60 per cent, of the copper formerly used, 
the introduction of central stations against all opposition and ignor- 
ance, the invention of a meter for measuring consumption of the cur- 
rent — this story of the birth of a new era in human progress is too 
full of incident to permit its being even outlined here. Suffice it to 
say that Thomas A. Edison's accomplishments in this field stamped 
him the greatest inventive figure of the age. 


Electric railway experiments next arrested Edison's chief attention, 
and by using the track for a circuit, he achieved wonderful results. 
He built an electric line at Menlo Park, N. J., in 1880 and 1882, then 
his headquarters, and it attracted railroad builders and engineers 
from all parts of the world; but somehow they were not so quick as 
Edison to grasp the possibilities of the field thus opened up. 

The worst financial blow Edison received was the abandonment of 
his extensive plant at Edison, N. J., for magnetic ore milling. This 
was "the most colossal experiment Edison ever made," his associates 
record. When it was given up, chiefly because of the discovery of 
unlimited quantities of rich ore in the Mesaba Range, Edison's whole 
fortune had gone and he was heavily in debt. Some of his associates 
were broken hearted. But Edison was undaunted, "As far as I 
am personally concerned," he declared philosophically, "I can at any 
time get a job at $75 per month as a telegraph operator and that will 
amply take care of all my personal requirements" — a touching testi- 
mony of the simplicity of his mode of life. 

There followed Edison's epochal inventions for the manufacture of 
cement — half the Portland cement produced in America was later 
made in Edison kilns. In one day, of almost twenty-four hours, Edi- 
son personally prepared detailed plans for his first cement plant 
covering a length of half a mile, a feat regarded by experts as the 
most stupendous ever performed by a human brain in one day. 
From the manufacture of cement to the "pouring of cement houses" 
was a logical step — and, incidentally, Edison believes this method 
of construction is only in its infancy. 

Of late years the electric storage battery, wireless apparatus, the 
Edison-Sims torpedo and other submarine problems, improvements 
in the phonograph, the dictating machine, the inventing of "speaking 
motion pictures," and household labour-saving devices have claimed 
most of the master inventor's time and talent. Naval problems have 
been his chief concern for the last two years, and just at present "I 
am working day and night for my Uncle Sammy" is the typical 
Edisonian message sent me. 

President Wilson, in paying tribute to Edison on his seventieth 
birthday, wrote: "He seems always to have been in the special con- 
fidence of Nature herself." If he is, it is because he has worked 
harder and more intelligently than any other living man to wring her 
secrets from her. His success has been paid for. 

Notwithstanding that he has given to the world more than any 
man of his generation, Edison has not received a corresponding finan- 
cial reward. He is not a multi-millionaire. Nor has he any desire 
to be one. He eats as little as he sleeps — just enough, he says, to 
keep him at the same weight (about 175 pounds) year after year. 


His attire is simple and unstudied and he both smokes and chews 
tobacco, but this is his only form of dissipation. Until latterly he 
indulged in no recreation or amusements except parchesi, but he has 
now taken to automobiling, often in company with Mrs. Edison or 
one of his children. 

"Edison is not a Christian but an atheist," is a remark sometimes 
heard. Let Edison speak for himself on this subject: "After years of 
watching the progress of Nature I can no more doubt the existence of 
an Intelligence that is running things than I do of the existence of 

Although now past the allotted span of three score years and ten, 
Edison's brain has not lost its brilliancy nor his right hand its cun- 
ning. It is not yet time to write "Finis" to his career. 

"Don't you feel a sense of regret in being obliged to leave so many 
things uncompleted?" he was asked. 

"What's the use?" he replied. "One lifetime is too short and I am 
busy every day improving essential parts of my established indus- 

These industries give employment and sustenance to an appreciable 
percentage of his fellowmen, and comfort, convenience, recreation, 
education to every civilized race, enriching the lives of all of us. 



THE president of the largest corporation the world has ever 
known began life as a common labourer. 
To-day he is one of the greatest practical industrial execu- 
tives in America. 

I know no man possessing more knowledge of his business — practical, 
theoretical, detailed and general — than James A. Farrell, president of 
the United States Steel Corporation. He carries in his head more 
steel facts than any other human being. 

Not only does he know how to make steel, not only has he had prac- 
tical training in every phase of manufacturing steel products, but he 
has done more than any other person, past or present, to send Ameri- 
can merchandise into every corner of the earth. Before others began 
even to talk about the vital importance of outlets for American prod- 
ucts, James A. Farrell, working literally day and night and journey- 
ing hither and thither across the seven seas, was blazing the trail for 
American goods and actually creating markets now yielding millions 
of dollars a year to American workmen and American business 
enterprises. He is known as "the father of the export steel 

Mr. Farrell holds the record for securing foreign orders for American 
goods. He is the greatest international salesman America has ever 

So modest is he, so averse is he to talking about himself or his 
achievements, that he was unknown to the American public until 
his name was proclaimed to the world as the new president of the 
Steel Corporation seven years ago. "Who is Farrell?" the people 
and the papers asked. Newspaper "morgues" were ransacked in 
vain for data about him. So were "Who's Who" and other publica- 
tions chronicling the careers of notables. 

Even now James A. Farrell is imperfectly known to all but those in 
the steel industry. Here are a few facts — and they are facts — about 

When a boy he began training his memory and he has disciplined 
it so thoroughly throughout his life that he admittedly has the finest 
memory of any business man in the country. 

Though working twelve hours a day as a labourer in a wire mill, 
he studied systematically every evening, and in fourteen months 


became a mechanic, rising to be foreman in charge of the 300 men in 
the works before he was of age. 

Having made several voyages with his seafaring father when a 
schoolboy, he became interested in foreign lands and now he is as 
familiar with every foreign country as he is with Pittsburgh or New 
York. He has been called "a walking gazetteer of the world." 

His knowledge of shipping, of steamship lines and lanes, of how 
best to transport merchandise from any one point of the globe to 
any other point is so far beyond that of any other human being that 
he has won the nickname "the American Lloyd's Register." In 
peace times he could tell the location any day of hundreds of vessels 
plying all over the seven seas. 

Twenty years before the average American realized the importance 
of foreign outlets for domestic products, Mr. Farrell, in face of ob- 
stacles which would have driven others to despair, inaugurated, 
singlehanded, a campaign for the conquest of overseas markets for 
American steel products and built up an export business before the 
war of almost $100,000,000 a year, a record not approached by any 
other individual. Since then the annual total has been far more 
than doubled. 

As the first president of the Foreign Trade Council, he rendered 
invaluable service to American manufacturers in aiding them to 
overcome obstacles in entering foreign markets. 

In nine days' examination during the Government's suit against 
the Steel Corporation, Mr. Farrell astounded everybody by answering 
thousands upon thousands of questions of every conceivable variety 
without having to refer to a single scrap of paper. The replies in 
many cases called for the recital of average, maximum, minimum, and 
percentage figures involving decimal points, yet the witness recited 
them from memory as easily as if he had records in front of his eyes. 

He can enter the mills and mines of the company and greet hun- 
dreds of co-workers by their first names even though, as occasionally 
happens, he runs across a workman he may not have met since the 
days when they sat together as common labourers or artisans on the 
cinder pile. 

His associates declare that he has the uncanny faculty of being able 
to do two things at once; for example, he can listen to and digest 
everything said to him by a caller and at the same time read and 
absorb everything in a letter or report submitted to him for considera- 
tion and decision. 

He has read every important book published on the iron industry 
and every worth-while volume on the history and conditions of other 
countries, his library on these subjects being second to that of no other 
individual. When electricity promised to become a factor in manu- 


facturing and transportation he paid #1,500 for a complete library of 
books on electricity. 

With all his amazing knowledge, his unique standing in his field and 
his power as president of an organization employing 280,000 men, 
James A. Farrell is still "Jim" Farrell, as democratic as when he first 
answered the whistle of the wire mill, and as hard a worker. 

A scene incongruous in these supposedly hard, materialistic days 
of rushing business, unceasing pressure, and lack of sentiment, was 
witnessed in a busy skyscraper in downtown New York six years ago. 

Several hundred men and women waylaid one of their number to 
present him with a loving cup. He had received signal promotion, 
and they pressed around him to offer congratulations and bid him 
God-speed. They were quite happy until the presentation speech 
was made, when it dawned upon them that they were saying farewell 
and that they were to lose their colleague. 

A sob was heard — from a stenographer or a telephone girl. In two 
minutes there was hardly a dry eye in the whole house. Enough tears 
were shed to fill the loving cup. 

The employees were those of the United States Steel Products 
Company and the man was their chief, James A. Farrell, who had 
been promoted from the presidency of that subsidiary to the presi- 
dency of the billion-dollar parent company. 

When Mr. Farrell was sitting day after day on the witness stand 
during the Government's investigation of the company, newspaper 
writers described him as a machine rather than a man, as carrying on 
. his shoulders, not a human head, but a Pandora's box filled with 
every conceivable variety of figures and knowledge, as wearing an ex- 
pression as immobile as the Sphinx, and as talking without apparently 
moving his lips — a statue rather than a mortal. They portrayed him 
as all head. 

The truth is that James A. Farrell's heart is larger than his head. 
But he doesn't wear it on his sleeve. He hasn't the conquering smile 
of Charles M. Schwab, one of his predecessors. He is not given to 
making an ostentatious fuss when meeting or welcoming anyone. He 
affects none of society's artificial "gush." 

An intimate analysis reveals James A. Farrell as a man of intense 
sympathy — he is what his Spanish friends call "simpatico" in an un- 
usual degree. He understands human nature as well as he under- 
stands iron. Interested as he has been beyond almost any other man 
in developing America's steel industry, he has been still more interested 
in the human beings who sweat and toil to produce the steel. His 
ceaseless efforts to find foreign markets have not prevented him from 
striving incessantly to improve the conditions of American workmen 
— indeed, the revolution which has taken place in conditions at steel 


plants since Mr. Farrell first entered the wire mill as a boy has been 
due in no slight measure to his efforts. 

Perhaps, too, an inherited sense of Irish humour has had something 
to do with enabling him successfully to meet difficulties and men at 
home and abroad. Even the responsibilities that press upon the 
president of a concern doing a billion dollars' worth of business 
a year have not crushed the love of fun — nor the boyishness of heart 
— from "Jim" Farrell. When off duty — particularly when, clad in 
oilskins and high boots, he skippers his sailboat — he enjoys playing 
pranks with his family or friends. 

But let us go back and trace Mr. Farrell's career from the beginning. 

At school in New Haven, Conn., where he was born on February 
16, 1863, James A. Farrell developed a keen interest in geography. 
He learned to draw maps from memory and to fill in correctly the 
principal cities, seaports, rivers, etc. He took pains to remember 
what he learned and his naturally good memory developed. The 
Farrells had been seafaring people for several generations, and when 
James was a mere lad his father took him on several voyages. 
Foreign sights still further stimulated the lad's interest in geography. 

One day the elder Farrell's ship, of which he was both owner and 
captain, sailed away from New York and was heard of no more. 

With the vanishing of the vessel vanished the son's dreams of a col- 
lege education. Instead of entering a university he entered a wire 
mill as a labourer. Although only fifteen and a half, his sturdy phys- 
ique and excellent health, which have never failed him, enabled him 
to perform the duties of a man. Twelve hours' manual toil every day 
did not dampen his ardour for study. Returning from the works after 
a full round of the clock he applied himself diligently to his books. 
As a little boy he had a fondness for swapping things and for other 
juvenile business transactions and he now had ambition to become a 

While performing the tasks of a common labourer he had kept his 
eyes open and had used his scanty opportunities to such purpose that 
in fourteen months he was promoted to the position of a mechanic. 
In this capacity he learned how to draw all kinds of wire, from the 
thickness of a human hair to a hawser strong enough to pull a ship. 
Before he was twenty he left the New Haven Wire Mill and went to 
the Pittsburgh Oliver Wire Company as an expert wire drawer. By 
the time he cast his first vote he was foreman over all the 300 men in 
the mill. 

All this time, however, he was daily and nightly striving to fit him- 
self to become a salesman. In addition to having learned every trick 
of the wire-drawing trade he had assiduously sought to learn other 
branches of the iron and steel industry and had also improved his 


general education by systematic study. When twenty-three he at- 
tained his object: his company appointed him salesman with the whole 
of the United States as his territory. 

Of course he succeeded — succeeded so well that the important 
Pittsburgh Wire Company of Braddock, Pa., made him its sales 
manager three years later. His office headquarters were in New York 
and this enabled him to rub shoulders with many influential steel men 
and also served to broaden his training and his outlook. 

Here again he made his mark, and when only thirty he was pro- 
moted to be general manager of the whole organization. 

"The explanation of Farrell's success as a salesman," one of his 
intimates impressed upon me, "is that he knew the business so thor- 
oughly from the ore up that he could not only talk intelligently about 
his wares, but often he could give buyers sound advice as to the kind 
of material that would best suit their purpose. He did not build up 
his business by the methods then too often in vogue. He did not 
take buyers to saloons or clubs and sign contracts over booze. He is 
a teetotaler. He was not even a 'good mixer/ It was not glib talk 
that won him customers, but something more solid. He was a 
delightful companion — his Irish w4t was always on tap — and serious- 
minded people found him an excellent conversationalist because he 
was so well read. Farrell was really a salesman plus; he knew more 
about goods than nine-tenths of the men he did business with. And 
he had a reputation for being straight. You could depend upon 'Jim' 
Farrell's word." 

Unlike many Americans, Mr. Farrell's vision was not confined to 
the country's geographical boundaries. As a schoolboy and as 
a barefoot lad scampering about the decks of his father's ship he had 
learned that a large part of the world lay beyond the Atlantic and the 
Pacific coasts and south of the Rio Grande. His selection as general 
manager of the Pittsburgh Wire Company came in 1893, the panic 
year. The steel business was prostrated. Farrell's first year as 
manager threatened to prove a bad one. Nobody would buy sub- 
stantial amounts of anything. What was to be done ? Most business 
men resigned themselves to conditions on the theory, "We must wait 
until the storm passes and things come our way again." 

Farrell didn't wait for orders to come his way. He went after them. 
And here the knowledge he had absorbed came to his aid. He had 
studied foreign countries exhaustively and knew a great deal about 
their internal conditions, principal industries, steel requirements, and 

Forthwith he invaded the foreign field with might and main. By 
December 31st he had sold one-half of the plant's product abroad! 
This feat became the talk of the steel trade. 


For three years Mr. Farrell lived within a stone's throw of the mill 
at Braddock. Many a time he was called out of bed at night to 
straighten out some unexpected tangle. He nursed the mill with the 
fidelity of a mother to her child. Naturally it grew. Although no 
additional capital was put into it, its value trebled during Farrell's 
six years' managership. 

Control having been purchased, in 1899, by John W. Gates and 
others who formed the American Steel & Wire Company of New 
Jersey, the position of foreign sales agent of the merger was offered 
Mr. Farrell. When, in 1901, the United States Steel Corporation 
was organized, with the American Steel & Wire Company as one of its 
principal subsidiaries, Mr. Farrell was unanimously chosen as the best 
man to develop the foreign end of the giant's operations. The choice 
of Mr. Farrell for this difficult position was inevitable, so completely 
had he outdistanced all others as a master of foreign business. 

In order to coordinate the overseas activities of all the subsidiaries, 
the United States Steel Products Company was incorporated in 1903, 
and Mr. Farrell became its president. His work here formed a nota- 
ble page in the history of our foreign trade. 

In the first year, 1904, sales of the Steel Corporation and of its 
subsidiaries to foreign countries totalled $31,000,000; by 191 2 the 
figure had exceeded $90,000,000, while the 1916 aggregate exceeded 
$200,000,000. The cost of doing this foreign business when Mr. 
Farrell took hold ranged from 7 to n per cent.; it is now well 
under one per cent, and he hopes to cut it down to one-half of one per 
cent. The whole worlH has been dotted with agencies, some 260 
having been established in more than 60 countries. Finding steam- 
ship service inadequate, Mr. Farrell induced the corporation to acquire 
a fleet of its own and to charter additional vessels; now it owns or 
has under long-term charter 30 to 40 ships. Its exports of over 
2,500,000 tons a year usually load about three steamers every two 
days. Steel Corporation steamers penetrate far-off places not touched 
by other vessels and carry goods of other shippers, including competi- 
tors, to such places. 

The products handled include everything in iron and steel from 
special nails for China to bridges for Iceland, wire for the Holy Land 
and skyscrapers for South America. 

Only those who have tried to penetrate new markets can under- 
stand the labour, the skill, the patience, that the creation of such an 
organization demanded. Without his phenomenal knowledge of 
international transportation, Mr. Farrell never could have opened up 
so many new trade lanes — the active head of the Cunard Line once 
described Mr. Farrell as "A good shipowner spoiled by being in an- 
other industry." Nor could he have attained such results had he 


not trained for just such a position during previous years, for his 
comprehensive study, combined with his amazing memory, enabled 
him to compute such intricate matters as foreign customs duties, the 
rail and water transportation, facilities of other countries, and the de- 
gree of competition to be encountered, all without having constantly 
to consult printed records or continually to cable abroad for informa- 

"Mr. Farrell did the work of four men/' declared E. P. Thomas, 
then one of Mr. Farrell's co-workers and later his successor as presi- 
dent of the Steel Products Company. "He seemed to know every- 
thing and could remember everything. He had a tremendous ca- 
pacity for work; after putting in a full day here at the office he would 
take home bundles of business papers, and * clean up,' as he called it, 
at night. He often worked fourteen hours a day. We received sev- 
eral hundreds of cables and letters every day and the way he contrived 
to digest all important matters in this mass of material and answer 
personally a great part of it was astounding. 

" Of course, we all pitched in and helped all we could, for there never 
was a man of greater personal magnetism. Every employee regarded 
him as a sort of father and counsellor, who could be depended upon 
for guidance and sympathy in domestic or other trouble." 

When the presidency of the Steel Corporation became vacant there 
was little difference of opinion as to the ideal man for the job. James 
A. Farrell towered above any other figure. He knew every detail of 
the mining, transportation, and transmuting of ore into iron and steel, 
of manufacturing all classes of products, of how to sell at home and, 
not least in importance, of how to cover the whole earth with Ameri- 
can steel manufactures — for that, of course, is the goal of the greatest 
industrial organization ever created by the human brain. 

"Jim" Farrell had one other qualification. He knew how to inspire 
workmen and win their loyalty. For example, he was inspecting a 
mine when the superintendent cautioned him not to enter a certain 
heading because it was dangerous owing to falling slate. "Aren't 
there men working in there?" asked Mr. Farrell. "Yes," he was told. 
"Very well," replied Mr. Farrell, "if it is right for the men to be there 
it is all right for me to go in." And in he went. The incident spread 
all over the mine and a reporter wrote a "story" about it. When it 
was widely reprinted and commented upon, Mr. Farrell was aston- 
ished, for he did not consider his action as having been anything out 
of the ordinary. But among miners, steel workers, and other em- 
ployees it stamped him as unspoiled by success. They felt that he 
still regarded himself as simply one of them. 

Just after his election to the Steel Corporation presidency a friend 
invited Mr. Farrell to join a theatre party. When they arrived Mr. 


Farrell absolutely refused to sit in a prominent position in the box. 
His picture had been appearing in publications throughout the coun- 
try and he feared he might be recognized by some of the audience and 
perhaps stared at, not to say talked about, as pushing himself into the 

When not working, which is not often, his favourite recreation is 
handling his boat, with members of his family and perhaps a few 
friends on board. His charities, of which nothing is ever heard, run 
chiefly to children's homes and hospitals. 

When I asked Mr. Farrell what his life's experience had taught him, 
what he could pass on to the myriads of young men ambitious to 
succeed, he cited these as some of the essentials — in addition, of course, 
to honesty, integrity, and other to-be-taken-for-granted qualities: 

"Application. If a task is to be done, do it no matter how unim- 
portant it may seem. 

"Concentration and Specialization on definite lines of work. 

"Cultivation of a good memory and a practical imagination, with 
ability to analyze conditions and evolve new plans and methods — 
that is, originality" 

Pressed to explain how to develop a strong memory, Mr. Farrell, 
in an interview with him published in the American Magazine, replied, 
in part: 

"To cultivate a good memory at first requires effort — great effort. 
In time it becomes easy and natural to remember things. To retain 
things in your mind becomes a habit. 

"Conan Doyle, in his writings, propounded the right idea. You 
must concentrate. You must not carry any useless mental baggage. 
You must concentrate on the things in which you are interested and 
expunge from your memory everything you are not interested in. 
There must be not only a spring cleaning but a daily cleaning of your 
memory, so to speak, in order to make room for fresh stores of helpful 

"James J. Hill, who had perhaps one of the most remarkable mem- 
ories of any man in the country, used to say that it is easy to remember 
things in which one is interested. Any one wishing to acquire com- 
prehensive knowledge of his business, or of any specific subject, must 
not try to store his mind with endless details about other things. 
For example, I have tried to learn all I could about the steel business 
in its mining, manufacturing, selling and transportation branches; 
but, to enable me to carry business information in my head, I have 
not attempted to retain in my mind minute detailed data about 
politics or baseball. 

"Absorb what to you is essential — that is, everything pertaining 
to your field of endeavour. Abolish from your mind non-essential, 


extraneous subjects. No human brain has cells enough to store up 
all the facts about all subjects under the sun. Don't clog your brain 
cells with impedimenta. Feed them only with vital material, with 
things that will enhance your usefulness in your sphere of activity by 
increasing and improving your stock of needful information." 

"How can a young man start in to improve his memory?" I asked. 

"The best foundation on which to build a strong memory is to 
cultivate a capacity for work. Good habits also contribute to a good 
memory; careless habits tend to distract and spoil the memory. A 
clear head is necessary to a keen memory. 

"It is essentially true of the mind that it grows on what it feeds. 
Youth is the time when the mind and memory are most sensitive, 
most retentive, and most plastic. It is especially important, there- 
fore, to begin the proper training of the mind at an early age. It is as 
difficult to dislodge cumbersome, useless things from the mind as it is 
to acquire new and better supplies of knowledge. What was done 
badly has to be undone — often at considerable cost. As with most 
worth-while things in this world, a good memory calls for the paying 
of a price. Any youth or man who desires to train his memory must 
be prepared to pay the cost. He must be prepared to forego an endless 
round of even harmless pleasures. He must not hope to shine con- 
tinually and conspicuously in social or society circles during his forma- 
tive years. He must study while others play. His reading must be 
limited very largely to books and magazines and papers which will 
help him to acquire facts and a better understanding of whatever 
business or subject he is determined to master. He must utilize 
most of his spare time and not idle it away." 

When a witness at the hearing of the Government's suit against 
the Steel Corporation he was asked: "Can you remember what 
percentage of the business of each of the subsidiaries of the Steel 
Corporation was foreign in 1910 and in 191 2?" 

Here is his reply, given without consulting a single note or figure: 
"Yes; the Carnegie Steel Company, 21 per cent, in 1910; 24 per cent. 
in 1912. The National Tube Company, 10 per cent, in 1910; 12 per 
cent, in 191 2. The American Sheet & Tin Plate Company, 11 per 
cent, in 1910; 20 per cent, in 191 2. The American Steel & Wire 
Company, 17 per cent, in 1910; 20 per cent, in 1912. The Lorain 
Steel Company, 30 per cent, in both periods. The American Bridge 
Company, 6 per cent, in 1910; 8.5 per cent, in 191 2. The Illinois 
Steel Company, 1.2 per cent, in 1910; 2.4 per cent, in 1912." 

"That man's mind is a self-working cash register and adding ma- 
chine combined," remarked one of the attorneys. 

The brain-work, the detailed knowledge, the intricate practical 
calculations necessary to solve export trade problems can be gathered 


from the way Farrell solved the difficulty of shipping goods from New 
York to Vancouver, British Columbia, at a cost that would enable 
our manufacturers to meet European ocean-borne competition. 
Europe could send material for $6 to #7 a ton, whereas the rate from 
Pittsburgh was $18 a ton. Mr. Farrell started a line of steamers 
which left New York, went through the Straits of Magellan, called at 
various ports on the west coast of South America, Mexico, and up to 

"How were these steamers brought back to New York?" queried 
the attorney. 

Mr. Farrell replied in these words: 

"We go into the merchandise business to work the ships around the 
world economically to enable them to load out to British Columbia 
with steel. The steamers are chartered for lumber or coal from Puget 
Sound to the Gulf of California — that is, to Guaymas or Mazatlan. 
They then go across to a place called Santa Rosalia and load full car- 
goes of copper matte from the Boleo Mining Company, owned by the 
Rothschilds; from there to Dunkirk, France, or Swansea, England, to 
discharge this copper. They are then chartered again to bring them 
across the Atlantic in order to get them back here to go on a triangular 
run again. They generally come over with chalk; occasionally with 
other commodities. Just now we are bringing over a cargo of tin 
plates in one of our steamers from Swansea." 

Question: How long does that trip take — the round trip? 

Mr. Farrell: From seven and a half to eight months. 

In view of the international commercial conditions that will arise 
after the war it is comforting to know that there is such a man as 
James A. Farrell as president of America's largest industrial organiza- 
tion. He is a national asset. 



HENRY FORD has sprung into greater international fame or 
notoriety than almost any other civilian, American or Eu- 
ropean, within the last five years. More epithets and enco- 
miums have been showered upon him than upon any other man in 
private life. 

He has been called the most foolish, and the sagest of men. 

He has been called idealist, and scheming, self-seeking egotist. 

He has been called humanitarian and slave-driver. 

His historic "Ford Peace Ship" to Europe to "get the boys out of 
the trenches by Christmas" has been lauded as the noblest incident 
of the European war, and condemned as the most childish, farcical idea 
ever born in the brain of a notoriety-seeker. 

His #5-a-day-for-e very-worker plan has been hailed as marking the 
birth of a new and better era in industrialism, and it has been ridiculed 
as injurious to many of the participants and contrary to all concepts 
of economics. 

His gigantic factory has been described as a model, and characterized 
as the most ingenious invention ever conceived for turning men into 
machines, each being compelled to toil at tremendous pressure with 
clock-work precision, speed, and monotony. 

Some have seen in his spectacular exploits nothing but adroit strokes 
of self-advertising; others see them wholly and solely as the earnest 
efforts of an altruist. 

"He has affected to despise money, yet has rolled up more millions 
for himself in the last few years than perhaps any other man, save 
Rockefeller," declare one set of critics, while admirers aver that 
Ford has shown more contempt for money and greater anxiety to 
get rid of it usefully than any other modern multi-millionaire. 

Many look upon Ford as the plainest and simplest and most lovable 
of men, while others declare he has completely lost his head and is 
obsessed with the idea that he is the greatest figure in America, if not 
in the world, and able to do the impossible. 

"With all his money Henry Ford lives as plainly and modestly 
as when he was a working mechanic," claim some of his friends, but 
others counter that he now delights to hobnob in the limelight with 
the President of the United States, with Edison, and with other na- 
tional figures and that, not content with spending money lavishly on 



a million-dollar palace and 5,000-acre estate in Michigan, he must 
needs have a pretentious house in the most fashionable resort of the 
idle rich in the sunny South. 

Ford is a seer, a superman, able to read human nature and human 
conditions better than any other business man in America contends 
one faction; intimates have declared that he brags about never having 
read a page of history in his life and is in love with his colossal ignor- 
ance, boasting he needs no guidance from the past to enable him to 
solve all the world's problems of the present and of the future. 

"The most loyal and lovable of friends" and "Impossible for any 
self-respecting man to get along with him," are two diametrically 
opposite comments. 

The Ford car has been the butt of more jokes than any other thing 
or any person in modern times — and bought by more people than any 
other car evolved by the brains of man! 

What is the truth about Henry Ford ? Is he knave or saint, fool or 
sage, egotist or altruist? Is he one of the world's really great men, 
or is he merely a commonplace mechanic who hit upon a good idea 
and was fortunate in finding friends able and willing to enable him to 
develop it and exploit it? 

Henry Ford, as I analyze him, was a hard-working, ambitious me- 
chanic who overcame innumerable difficulties and discouragements in 
his pursuit of an idea which did credit to both his head and his heart. 
He was fortunate in being befriended by two or three able business 
men who helped to steer the infantile Ford industry along right 
channels. Ford was, or became, as much interested in producing the 
right type of men as in manufacturing the right kind of machine, but 
his intoxicating success went to his head, and he became obsessed with 
the notion that there was nothing, human or superhuman, that he and 
his money could not accomplish. 

His motives, however, have always been unimpeachable; no ulterior, 
selfish thought of self-advertising or self-glorification was for a mo- 
ment in his mind. He is a humanitarian through and through, an 
idealist, an evangelist of the doctrine of industrial reform for the 
benefit of the labouring classes. His boasted ignorance of past human 
experience and history, his innocence of economics, and his latter-day 
arrogance are directing him into activities for which he is unfitted. 
His hands and his intentions are worthy of admiration, but his expe- 
rience has not fitted him to fill the role of Sir Oracle to which he 

Before he permitted his fairy-like prosperity to warp his judgment 
and his perspective, Henry Ford was the most modest and lovable of 
men, simple in his tastes, humane in all his ideas, determined to better 
the lot of the working people. He is still sincere. He is still prompted 


by humanitarian motives. He is still unenamoured of money-making 
for money-making's sake, and his spectacular dashes into the lime- 
light are not prompted by any thirst for notoriety or other selfish 
purpose. Unfortunately, however, he is not bearing the strain of 
suddenly won international fame with quite the same degree of success 
that he bore the strain of earlier adversity. 

But were he without faults he would not be human. He has done 
so much good, he has shown such a humanitarian example to other big 
business men, his achievements have been so praiseworthy, and his 
motives have been so irreproachable that it seems ungracious to in- 
dulge in even impartial criticism. 

The early career of Henry Ford is inspiring to the youth of America. 
The boy Ford was no different from other boys in the neighbourhood 
of his father's 300-acre farm at Greenfield, near Detroit, Michigan, 
where Henry was born on July 30, 1863, except that he more often 
played with mechanical tools than with other youngsters. It is re- 
corded that, when a mere lad, he played truant from church one Sunday 
to demonstrate to a young companion who had a new watch that he 
could take every wheel and screw apart and reassemble them. When 
still a schoolboy, he built an engine, it is said, out of odds and ends. 
He was proud of his invention but was chagrined at the lack of enthu- 
siasm over it. 

One day, before he was sixteen, instead of going to school according 
to programme, he jumped on a train for Detroit, walked boldly into 
the works of James Flower & Company, manufacturers of steam en- 
gines, and booked a job at $2.50 a week. He succeeded in finding an 
old lady willing to board him for #3.50. To balance his accounts, he 
set out to find night work and prevailed upon a jeweller to pay him 
$2 a week for four hours' work every night. He worked from seven 
in the morning to six in the evening and then from seven to eleven 
o'clock at night — a 15-hour day, leaving him about six hours for 

Young Ford proved a capable mechanic, so capable, indeed, that 
he began to find fault with the inefficient, labour-wasting methods 
employed. He was quite sure he could run the thing much better 
himself. At the end of nine months his pay was increased to £3, but a 
fortnight later he quit and entered the Dry Dock Engine Works, 
where he could learn something new — about the manufacturing of 
marine machinery. The chance to enlarge his knowledge and ex- 
perience, he calculated, was worth incurring a reduction of fifty cents 
a week in pay — his new wage was only #2.50. But it didn't stay at 
that figure long; in a short time it was doubled. 

This enabled him to give up his night work, as he didn't need the 
extra money — "I really had no use for spare money; I never have 


known what to do with surplus money for I cannot squander it on 
myself without hurting myself. Money is the most useless thing in 
the world," was and is the Ford dictum. 

For a period at this stage of his life it would appear — from Rose 
Wilder Lane's biography of Ford, from which many of these early 
facts are derived — that he became "one of the boys," joining the other 
youths of the Dry Dock plant in their skylarking. However, he soon 
became recognized as a sort of leader of some of the youths, whom he 
inspired with towering ambitions. 

Ford planned that they should organize a watch factory which, he 
demonstrated to their satisfaction, could turn out 2,000 watches a day 
at a cost of 37 cents each, to be sold for 50 cents. They would buy 
their raw materials in great quantities, start it going at one end of his 
dream factory and have the complete watches tossed out with light- 
ning rapidity at the other end — exactly what Ford is doing now, 
except that it is automobiles he thus tosses out, the daily total is 
not 2,000 but 3,000, and the selling price of the finished article is not 
50 cents but several hundred dollars. 

"What about capital ?" asked one prospective partner, an inhabi- 
tant of this glorious castle in the air. 

Before Ford could solve that little problem he was called home 
to look after the farm on account of his father having been injured 
and his older brother having fallen ill. Alas, this cheated the young 
band of their promised millions and deprived the world of 50-cent 
Ford watches. 

After two or three years on the farm he married a neighbouring 
farmer's daughter, Clara J. Bryant, in 1888, and they settled comfort- 
ably on forty acres of the Ford farm, having built a snug house of 
their own. 

Henry now had leisure of an evening for the study of things me- 
chanical, and while reading a technical magazine he came upon an 
article describing a novel horseless carriage which a Frenchman had 
invented. The idea set his imagination on fire and off* he went to 
Detroit one day for materials to start the building of an engine which 
would outdo the Frenchman's. Detroit had recently acquired a fire 
engine driven by steam and, as good luck would have it, it went roar- 
ing down the street at the rate of fifteen miles an hour while Ford was 
returning to the station. The engine carried a tremendous water 
boiler — a ponderous, heavy, awkward load whose weight consumed a 
serious part of the propulsion power. Ford was immediately struck 
with the waste entailed by this undue weight and bulk and set his 
mind in motion to think up something that could do away with it. 

After much thought, he started to utilize gasoline as the motive 
power. A full knowledge of electricity, however, would be necessary 


before attempting to put his theories into practice. And he had only 
a book acquaintance with this mysterious current. 

To the amazement of the neighbourhood, to the grief of his family, 
and against the entreaties of his wife, he announced that he was 
going to Detroit to get a job. The good folk of Greenfield thought 
poor "Hen" was crazy. 

The moment he and his wife had found a boarding-house in Detroit, 
Ford made for the Edison Electric Light & Power Company. For- 
tune favoured him. An engine in a sub-station had rebelled and the 
engineer in charge could not manage it. Did Ford think he could 
tame the balky engine ? He guessed he would like to have a try at it. 
Almost in a twinkling he had that engine running smoothly and musi- 
cally. He was there and then engaged as night engineer of the station 
at #45 per month. In six months he was brought to headquarters as 
manager of the mechanical department at $150 per month. 

Ford found that much of the trouble the plant had been experienc- 
ing was due to the indifferent service rendered by the men, who had 
to work twelve hours a day. It was characteristic that he introduced 
an 8-hour day for all the men — except himself; he continued to 
work twelve, at least. 

His new wealth emboldened him to seek a home of his own. By 
working every night, often by the aid of a lantern held by Mrs. Ford, 
the mechanic built a modest home and a capacious shed for a work- 
shop. Then he settled down to construct his gasoline-driven car- 

In that shed the unknown mechanic was making history. He 
suffered the fate common to inventors and pioneers. As he toiled 
there far into every night, renouncing all social diversions, his mind 
intent upon the one consuming idea of evolving an engine that would 
revolutionize transportation, the neighbours, seeing the light strag- 
gling through the cracks in the dilapidated building at all hours of the 
night, began to regard him as a crank. When he passed on his way 
home from work, neighbours would look at one another significantly 
and tap their foreheads. An inoffensive creature, too bad he had 
gone crazy. 

Months passed. Then one night, long after midnight, amid a 
downpour of rain, Henry Ford chug-chugged out of the shed and 
down Edison Avenue, Mrs. Ford pacing him on the sidewalk. He 
crawled along for several blocks until he suddenly realized he did not 
know how he could turn his machine homeward. He stopped, got out, 
pulled and tugged until he had turned it around and then drove tri- 
umphantly back to the shed. The Ford car was a thing of reality — 
even though it was only a wheezy one-cylinder engine mounted on a 
buggy frame and four bicycle wheels refitted with strong tires. 


The local newspapers mentioned the mechanic's wonderful inven- 
tion, but the little stir it caused soon died down. The thing was 
crude, extremely crude. Ford well realized he must spend much time 
in devising improvements before he could think of giving up his posi- 
tion and devoting himself to making horseless carriages. Mrs. Ford 
having returned for a temporary stay with her mother, Henry was 
obliged to do his own housekeeping, and often of a night, after working 
on his engine for hours, he would jump on board and ride down to 
have a sandwich and a cup of coffee from "Coffee Jim," who kept an 
all-night lunch wagon in the city. The two became close friends. 

For eight more years — yes, eight long years — Henry Ford kept 
working twelve hours a day to earn his^ living and the living of his wife 
and little son, and regularly spent half the night evolving improve- 
ments on his car. By this time automobiles were beginning to come 
into vogue. They were expensive, luxurious things, appealing only 
to the rich. Ford's idea was to make a car that the man of ordinary 
income could buy and use. Finally he devised a two-cylinder engine 
which worked splendidly, built a real car, rode it about the streets of 
Detroit to advertise it, and then tried to raise capital to become an 
automobile builder. But no capitalist would risk backing the ven- 

Ford did not lose courage. Even then he had adopted as a motto, 
"Anything founded on the idea of the greatest good for the greatest 
number will win in the end." He knew he would win. 

"Coffee Jim" came to his rescue. He financed Ford, enabling him 
to give up his job at the Edison plant and to build a car to compete 
at the automobile races at Grosse Point. Ford had his little two- 
cylinder racer ready on time, but the crowds laughed when he pulled 
out to compete with the redoubtable, unbeaten Alexander Winton. 
Ford, the unknown, was the only man who dared to enter against the 
famous champion in the all-comers' race. 

But the jeers soon turned to cheers as the little car shot around and 
around the track — and won. 

At one bound Ford had become the most famous automobile racer 
in America. Everybody crowded around wanting to know who had 
built this wonder-working car. Ford modestly admitted he was its 

The limelight was immediately turned on Ford and his car and his 
little workshop. Capital was now offered, but only on condition that 
the capitalists were given control. They wanted to build motor 
palaces costing thousands of dollars. Ford's dream was to establish 
an automobile factory exactly along the lines of the watch factory of 
his boyhood day-dreams. So no Ford automobile factory sprang into 
being just then. 


However, several men of modest means became interested in Ford 
and his plans, and enough capital was furnished to build a car to 
startle the world at the next race. Ford constructed a four-cylinder 
monster that developed eighty horsepower, Barney Oldneld was in- 
duced to drive it, and in a three-mile race he defeated his nearest com- 
petitor by half a mile! This feat, which rang around the world, 
brought the necessary capital to form a company. Ford became 
vice-president, general manager, and everything else, at a salary of 
$150 a month. At last Ford had visions of making his dream a 
reality. But again, for similar reasons, he was doomed to disap- 
pointment. His new backers wished to turn out regal chariots to sell 
at a profit of two or three hundred per cent. Ford would not deviate 
from his plan to make cars within reach of persons of small earnings. 
The clash left Ford, then over thirty years old, with a wife and child 
to support, and with neither capital nor job. 

James Couzens and one or two others stuck to Ford, and enough 
money was scraped together to rent a large shed, hire a couple of 
workmen, and buy enough material to start making a few low-priced 
cars. The company was nominally capitalized at #100,000, but only 
$15,000 was actually paid in. Ford worked literally day and night. 
His two mechanics also cheerfully worked overtime. Customers 
came to the shed unsolicited and planked down deposits on cars not 
yet made. Before long Ford was employing forty men and was 
ordering material by the car load. He got long enough credit to en- 
able him to turn the material into finished cars and collect his money. 
Every cent he could save was put into the business and no fancy sal- 
aries were paid, yet it was often a case of nip and tuck to meet bills. 
His sales soon were at the rate of 1,000 cars a year. The price was 

Winter was coming on with threatened dearth of orders. Then 
Ford conceived the idea of breaking the world's speed record with a 
new four-cylinder car. On the frozen Lake Sinclair Ford himself drove 
his new car a mile in 39 1-5 seconds, lowering the world's record by 
the astonishing margin of seven seconds. That would bring orders 
aplenty for the coming year. 

Alas, when Ford returned to the shop after his amazing performance 
he was informed, the story runs, that there wasn't a dollar in the 
till to pay the men's wages! And, to make matters worse, it was 
just on the eve of Christmas. When his workmen trooped into 
the office for their pay, Ford made a clean breast of conditions. 
If they would stand by him everything would be all right, but if they 
deserted, the jig was up. To a man the workers pledged their loyal 
support, and the way cars were turned out during the following days 
was eye-opening. 


This proved the turning point in Henry Ford's career. Success 
came fast. 

In January, 1914, the world was startled by Henry Ford's announce- 
ment that he would pay all his unskilled workmen a minimum of #5 
a day and reduce their working hours from ten to eight. The news 
caused such an invasion of Detroit that the police were powerless to 
handle the thousands of clamourers for employment, and finally the 
fire department had to turn out in force and charge the mob with 
volleys of water from their most powerful hose, a species of disorganiz- 
ation and excitement not repeatable, as no man is now engaged who 
has not lived for six months in Detroit. 

Recipients of the $5 a day — and that included the most illiterate 
men of the fifty-five nationalities employed in the works — had to 
comply with certain conditions calculated to induce, or compel them 
to lead a mode of life approved by Ford. This mild form of coercion 
incited resentment among numbers of the workmen and it was soon 
found necessary to modify the conditions. By establishing schools 
for teaching English, by instituting an extensive welfare department, 
by providing hospitals, gymnasiums and the like, and encouraging 
the labourers to use their new-found wealth wisely, astounding results 
were obtained, for both Ford and the men. 

Thus in February, 1914, under the new plan, less than 16,000 men, 
working only eight hours a day, made 26,000 cars against only 16,000 
cars made by fully 16,000 men in the previous February working ten 
hours a day, an increase of 10,000 cars. The plan paid with a ven- 

Five months after the profit-sharing scheme, as it was called, went 
into effect, the average bank account of the beneficiaries had increased 
almost threefold, the value of homes owned by them increased almost 
90 per cent., the value of lots bought on contract increased 135 per 
cent., life insurance among the men increased nearly 90 per cent, and 
the number of employees living under unsatisfactory conditions was 
reduced from 23 per cent, to only ij per cent. The profit-sharers 
now include several hundred ex-convicts, a class in which Ford takes 
intense interest. "The way to mend a bad world," says Ford, "is 
to create a better world. The way to create a right One is to give 
people enough to live on so that they are not discouraged and want to 
go into destruction" — meaning war, revolution, and the like. 

Having satisfied his workers, Ford next announced that he would 
distribute $10,000,000 or more of his year's profits among his cus- 
tomers, provided that a certain output was reached. And, of course, 
it was reached; the actual amount distributed was approximately 
$15,000,000. ' 

One Ford motto is: "To make money, make quantity." Here 


are figures from the report of the Ford Motor Company for the 
fiscal year ended July 31, 1916: 

Profit for the year #59,994,118 

Gross business done 206,867,347 

Number of cars made ' . 508,000 

Total employees, all plants - . 49,870 

Employees getting #5 a day or more 36,870 

Cash on hand 52,550,771 

Ford's own share of the 1916 profits was computed at #35,000,000. 
No wonder Ford says: "I don't have to worry about the banks, 
they have to worry about me. They have to sit up nights scraping 
together enough to pay me my interest." 

His output of cars is now approaching the 1,000,000-a-year mark, 
or over 3,000 every week day — the plant is closed on Sundays. 

The Ford plant at Detroit with its 35,000 men and its Aladdin- 
like machinery is now regarded as one of the greatest industrial won- 
ders of modern times and is visited by as many as 5,000 sightseers a 

Ford now has large branch factories in Canada and England, is 
building one in Ireland, and is planning the erection of huge factories 
at Chicago, Kansas City, and in New Jersey. 

He is arranging to bring his own ore from his own mines, smelt it 
in his own furnaces, mould it in his own plants, forge it in his own 
works and, in short, become as far as possible self-sufficient. 

His greatest unrealized business ambition is to supply the farmers 
of the world with very low-priced tractors. This Trior's task will 
devolve mainly upon Ford's only child, Edsel Ford, who is following 
worthily in his father's footsteps. 

"I would like," Ford declares, "to put the farmers in possession 
of the land, to destroy monopoly and leave the producers free to 
develop. I would like to liberate the farmer from his debt. And 
we can do it, too. In the past a man couldn't get enough variety of 
experience on the farm; but now with the telephone, the phonograph, 
the moving pictures, the automobile — so that he can get away to the 
big cities when he wants to — the farmer can live in the country and 
have all the experience in the world. The high cost of clothing and 
implements and transportation hampers the farmer, and the Trusts 
cheat him, and the banks soak him an awful price for his money. I 
want to do away with all those things." 

Not long ago Mr. Ford — although he declares "I don't believe in 
boundaries; I think nations are silly and flags are silly too" — told 
President Wilson that he could arrange to turn out 1,000 one-man sub- 
marines a day, the tiny craft to sneak up to the enemy ship, stick what 


he called a "pill" into its vitals and submerge before the pill exploded, 
causing the ship to sink, a job, however, less to his liking than housing 
and nurturing thousands of birds on his novel farm. The one-man 
submarine has not yet taken possession of the ocean. 

Here are two of Ford's recent notable utterances: 

"Money doesn't do me any good. I can't spend it on myself. 
Money has no value, anyway. It is merely a transmitter, like elec- 
tricity. I try to keep it moving as fast as I can, for the best interests 
of everybody concerned. A man can't afford to look out for himself 
at the expense of any one else, because anything that hurts the other 
man is bound to hurt you in the end, the same way." 

"I am going to keep the American flag flying on my plant until the 
war is over and then I am going to pull it down for good; I am going 
to hoist in its place the Flag of All Nations which is being designed in 
my office right now." 

It is not yet time to attempt to fix Henry Ford's place in history. 



I WISH my career were beginning instead of drawing to a 
A sigh of regret accompanied these words, by James B. 
Forgan, the great national banker of Chicago, 

I had asked Mr. Forgan whether the opportunities for young men 
were as great to-day in the banking field as when he won his spurs. 

"There are certainly at present," he declared, "greater opportu- 
nities than ever before and more of them for young men entering the 
banking business. Banking in this country is now in an evolutionary 
stage. The deplorable European war has created the opportunities, 
and the Federal Reserve system — not yet fully understood or appre- 
ciated — affords us the means of taking advantage of them. 

"We are just at the beginning of an era of banking development in 
this country through which our banking system will take its place 
among and rank with the great banking systems of Europe in national 
and international trade and finance. The prestige and power of these 
older systems for years to come will be seriously weakened and 'their 
extremity will be our opportunity/ There are untold opportunities 
ahead for competent bankers ready to take advantage of them." 

Fearlessness and a superlative sense of honour are outstanding 
characteristics of James B. Forgan. Let me recite an illustrative 

A friend was in Mr. Forgan's office one day when a visitor came 
in and engaged him in conversation at the far side of the 

The two talked together quietly for some time, but the banker 
then began to exhibit symptoms of annoyance. Presently Mr. 
Forgan jumped up and angrily ordered him out of the office. 

"Excuse me for having acted this way," said Mr. Forgan, returning 
to his friend, "but what do you think that fellow put up to me? He 
tried to bribe me to make him a loan with the bank's money." 

Very early James B. (the "B." is for Berwick) Forgan learned the 
value of keeping his eye on the ball whether playing the game of life 
or of golf. His father was a golf-ball and golf-club maker at St. 
Andrews, that ancient seat of learning and of "the royal game" and 
one of Auld Scotia's most historic, picturesque, and revered towns, 
once the see of Scotland's patron saint, where stood for centuries a 



cathedral "of which the very ruins are stupendous." He learned how- 
to swing a club before he aspired to become a cashier. 

Unlike the majority of men who have made an impress upon 
American history, young Forgan started without the handicap of 
poverty or a poor education. So expert was his father that he built 
up a business which employed quite a number of men and yielded him 
a very considerable fortune, the Forgan product having been in de- 
mand the world over. They were godly people, Mr. Forgan's parents, 
and had the satisfaction of seeing two of their sons become ministers, 
while the only daughter married a member of the cloth. James B. 
and David R. became bankers, while the other son succeeded to the 
father's business. Incidentally, the business has been shot through 
and through by the war, the head of it, Mr. Forgan's nephew, having 
gone to the front as an officer soon after hostilities began, while some 
thirty of the workmen also entered the service, leaving only old or 
infirm workers. 

From Madras College, St. Andrews, James B. went to Forres 
Academy, where his uncle was rector for half a century and head of 
the boys' private boarding school connected with it. On graduating 
he was given the choice of entering the famous St. Andrews University 
or going into business. A local lawyer had discerned the makings of a 
legal luminary in the youth and induced him to enter his office. It 
was young Forgan's intention to attend the necessary classes in the 
university and study law at the same time, but his employer died and 
another lawyer, who was local agent of the Royal Bank of Scotland, 
got hold of him. So James B. Forgan became a banker's apprentice. 

The ambition of most Scottish youths is to go farther afield and 
see the wider world. On finishing his three years' training, Forgan 
got a job with the Bank of British North America, in London, as a 
stepping-stone to service across the Atlantic, the goal of so many 
ambitious Scotsmen. In 1872, when twenty years of age — he was 
born in 1852 — he was sent to Montreal, then to New York, and next 
to Halifax. 

The Bank of Nova Scotia spotted the clean-cut young giant, noted 
his ability, and engaged him as paying teller. He worked conscien- 
tiously, studied banking from every angle, and won the confidence 
of his superiors. 

Then he had what he calls "a stroke of luck." 

The manager of the branch at Yarmouth had diphtheria in his 
family and was quarantined. Someone had to be sent to take charge 
without delay. Teller Forgan was the bank's choice. 

"When can you go?" asked the general manager, Thomas Fyshe. 

"Right now," Forgan replied. 

"I didn't — and don't — believe in procrastinating when Opportunity 


knocks at the door," Mr. Forgan has since said; "I hurriedly packed 
my bag and caught the first train out. 

"I believe there is some mysterious influence outside of ourselves 
which gives us opportunity. If I had not proved efficient, the oppor- 
tunity would not have come to me — it would have passed to someone 
ready to grab it. So I believe in the destiny that shapes our ends — 
and in keeping your powder dry!" 

When at Yarmouth he was asked to make a thorough inspection of 
the bank. He did, and his report was as exhaustive and lucid as 
research and care could make it. The finished document stamped 
him as a master banker in the eyes of the directors. They had him 
inspect other branches. 

His Scottish thoroughness, plus brains, won him that coveted prize 
in the life of every aspiring bank clerk, appointment to an official 
position. He was made manager of the bank's Liverpool, Nova 
Scotia, branch. Other promotion followed. When expansion neces- 
sitated the election of a regular Inspector of Branches, young Forgan 
— he was then only thirty — was the man chosen for this responsible 
work. The compilation of that first report was still bearing fruit. 

The United States was virgin territory, the Bank of Nova Scotia 
never having ventured to invade it. But the directors were progres- 
sive. They were anxious to conquer new fields. Why not enter the 
heart of the States? 

Hadn't they a level-headed, forceful young officer who had proved 
himself equal to any task? Let him blazon the trail. 

At thirty-three James B. Forgan set out to establish a branch at 
Minneapolis. He knew business and how to handle business men. 
He had given special study to credits, having learned in the school of 
experience that one of the easiest ways not to make money is to make 
losses. His early steeping in the theory of banking had been supple- 
mented by practice in many places and under various conditions. 
Already his name and fame were not unknown in financial circles. 

His work in Minneapolis quickly told. Beginning modestly, the 
business grew. And James B. Forgan was recognized as bigger than 
his position. Within three years the important Northwestern Na- 
tional Bank of Minneapolis offered him its cashiership. Here also he 
applied himself to building up his institution. His previous experi- 
ence enabled him to multiply the bank's connections and ramifications. 
The Northwestern became one of the strongest institutions in its 
section and Forgan had carved for himself a niche among America's 
leading bank executives. 

Lyman J. Gage took note of the young banker's progress and in 
1892 took Mr. Forgan into the First National of Chicago as first 
vice-president. A spell of ill-health delayed his acceptance of the 


presidency when Mr. Gage became Secretary of the Treasury, but on 
his recovery (in 1900) he stepped into the highest banking position in 

And this is what happened in fifteen years. 

Bank's Growth Under James B. Forgan's Presidency 

january 9, january 31, 
assets 1900 1915* 

Loans and Discounts #27,781,462 #134,762,853 

United States Bonds 879,160 3,824,000 

Other Bonds and Securities 3>39I>9I3 38,728,312 

Bank Building . 500,000 1,250,000 

Cash and Due from Banks 16,827,327 79,847,616 

#49>379> 8 62 #258,412,781 


Capital Stock Paid in $ 3,000,000 $ 10,000,000 

Surplus Fund 2,000,000 20,000,000 

Other Undivided Profits 53*>95l 2,713,680 

Special Deposit of United States Bonds 3,340,000 

Circulating Notes 450,000 924,000 

Dividends Unpaid 550,000 

Reserved for Taxes 50>3I9 575> 2 64 

Foreign Bills Rediscounted 83,214 393>798 

Deposits 43,264,378 219,916,039 

#49>379> 862 #258,412,781 

On January 1, 1916, Mr. Forgan was made chairman of the board, 
but he is still active in the business. 

Those impressive figures, though almost unmatched in American 
banking annals, do not tell the whole story of Mr. Forgan's achieve- 

Mr. Forgan early realized the value of inspiring and stirring to en- 
thusiasm those working with him, and, to this end, he established in 
1903 a generous pension fund for employees. He is as solicitous for the 
welfare and advancement of the youngest office-boy who comes under 
his wing as for the officers. Told that he used to have a long, fatherly 
talk with every new boy entering the Minneapolis bank, impressing 
upon him that the shaping of his career would begin from that moment, 
and advising him how to comport himself to win promotion, I asked 
Mr. Forgan about this. 

"Yes," he replied. "I took a great deal of pride in the selection of 

♦Includes First Trust and Savings Bank, organized by Mr. Forgan in 1903 and 
owned by the stockholders of The First National Bank of Chicago. 


young men entering the bank. I became friendly with the principal 
of the high school, and asked him to suggest likely young men. In 
this way we built up an exceptionally fine force, the result of which is 
that the young men then engaged are now at the head of the institu- 

"I used to take the boys into my office and impress upon them that 
their ambition should be to become bankers, not mere machines or 
bookkeepers; that they should keep their eyes open to everything 
that was going on, and endeavour to understand what the figures they 
made on the books actually represented. I also pointed out to them 
that they should be observers of men, and that they could form opin- 
ions of the business methods of the bank's customers and of the other 
business men on whom they had drafts to collect on their rounds as 
messengers. By exercising intelligence they could see things and 
gather information and impressions which might be of value to the 
bank's officers." 

Both Chicago and the nation's bankers have honoured James B. 
Forgan. He has been chairman of the Chicago Clearing House 
Committee since 1901 ; was elected not only a director of the Federal 
Reserve Bank of Chicago, but president of the Federal Advisory 
Council, a signal national tribute by fellow bankers to his outstanding 
ability. He is chairman of the Security Bank and the Second Se- 
curity Bank, a director in various local enterprises and of the Equita- 
ble Life Assurance Society. 

Oftener than once Mr. Forgan has been called to New York to aid 
in cracking banking nuts, particularly in times of crisis and when the 
reorganization of our currency system was under way. "The best 
practical banker in America," he has been called by more than one 
high authority. 

I recall that at the last annual conference of the American Bankers' 
Association I attended, no other man's hand was quite so continuously 
being shaken by delegates during the intervals between the formal 
proceedings. His was a commanding, distinguished figure, dignified, 
yet not forbidding, his face often wreathed in smiles as he received a 
constant stream of friends from all parts of the country. 

He is a man of broad sympathy. Chicago recognizes in him 
one of her foremost citizens, a great moral force, a leader and director 
of charitable movements, a (Presbyterian) hospital trustee, a patron 
of many philanthropies. 

His advice to young men — he has three sons of his own — is to equip 
themselves for higher and higher positions — and save money! Being 
a Scot, he absorbed the spirit of thrift with his porridge and his Shorter 

"Extravagance," he declares, "is America's national sin. Most 



young people make no effort to save; few even of older years save 
systematically. My method was to start the new year by fixing the 
sum I would save during the year. If I decided to buy a #1,000 bond 
I would pay perhaps #100 in cash, borrow the balance from the bank, 
and repay $75 every month. That #75 was the first thing I paid on 
receiving my salary. The remainder had to last the whole month. 
December found me sole owner of the bond. I never speculated — 
I can't read the Stock Exchange tape intelligently even now." 

If the United States is to seize the financial and commercial oppor- 
tunities now offering, the example of James B. Forgan must be fol- 
lowed widely, for bankers cannot create capital. You and I and our 
fellow-citizens have to attend to that. 




in dollar bills it would have circled the earth six times with enough 
left to stretch from northernmost Alaska to Cape Horn. 

Its assets exceed #2,000,000,000. 

Not less than $7,000,000 is spent annually on welfare work to make 
employees healthier, happier, safer, and, therefore, more efficient. 

Allowing five to a family, the Corporation supports 1,400,000 per- 
sons, twice the population of Boston. 

It has industrial ambassadors or consuls in sixty countries. 

It has some sixty subsidiaries, and twenty corporation presidents 
serve as the aides of the chief executive. 

Yet the man who presides over this unparalleled enterprise is never 
flustered, never excited, never confused. He is master of his job; 
indeed, his associates agree that there is no job in America better 
filled and that no job will be harder to fill when he retires. 

There is nothing of the autocrat in Judge Gary's make-up. He is 
human — humane. He often smiles — his smile is famous; he seldom 
frowns. There are no hard lines in his face and his blue eyes are 

His office, on the seventeenth floor of 71 Broadway, is hung with 
autographed photographs of men who have played foremost parts in 
making America. These breathe a friendly atmosphere. 

Let me relate an illuminating incident. 

J. P. Morgan was in Europe. 

Times were bad — it was in 1909. Prices were falling, orders were 
dwindling, wages were being reduced all over the country. The Steel 
Corporation directors concluded that they must follow the general 
trend by cutting wages. Action was proposed at a meeting of the 
Finance Committee. Many favoured the step. Judge Gary was 
uncompromisingly opposed. 

"I move," interposed Judge Gary, when he saw how the discussion 
was going, "that we postpone action for a week," and this was agreed 

Mr. Morgan, before sailing, had said to Judge Gary: "If you want 
me to do anything while I am away, cable me." 

Judge Gary hated to bother Mr. Morgan, but the welfare of the 
workmen lay near the Judge's heart. He cabled Mr. Morgan a re- 
quest to see two prominent members of the committee travelling in 
Europe and then cable a recommendation on the part of the three 
that wages be maintained. 

Mr. Morgan acted with his customary promptitude and effective- 
ness. He summoned the directors then vacationing in Europe and, 
with his characteristically persuasive powers, which few men could 
withstand, secured their vote. 

Back came the cable the Judge wanted, and when the proposal next 


came up it was defeated. The day was won for the workmen, and 
the courageous stand taken by the Steel Corporation had such an 
inspiriting effect upon sentiment that general industry soon revived. 

This little incident, heretofore unpublished, gives a better insight 
than anything else I know of into Judge Gary, the man, the true friend 
of the workingman, the humanitarian. 

Judge Gary did more than any other "Big Business" captain to 
bring about the renaissance in the attitude of corporations toward the 
public. Ten years ago, condemning the high-handed, secretive on- 
goings of financial and industrial leaders, he said publicly: "All this 
must be stopped by the rich themselves or the mob will stop it. There 
would have been neither growth nor spread of antagonism to capital 
unless there had been something to justify it." 

Judge Gary could afford to speak out. 

He was the most powerful pioneer for corporation publicity America 
had known. He inaugurated the publication of monthly statements 
years before the agitation for publicity became a force. His annual 
reports were models of lucidity and detail — so much so that they were 
adopted by German colleges as standard. 

His fairness toward labour from the very start was revolutionary. 
In this he encountered tremendous opposition from his own directors. 

"The only way to deal with labour is, whenever it shows its head, 
hit it," declared one very influential director at an early board meet- 

"Then you will have to engage someone else to do the hitting," 
was the ultimatum Judge Gary flung back. 

The principles he laid down for treating competitors were also 
scoffed at by old-school capitalists as Utopian. 

Because Judge Gary refused to squeeze buyers when a boom brought 
a steel famine, these same old-school financiers were convinced that 
they had picked an idealist instead of a practical man, and some of 
them sighed over the millions his new fanatical notions were costing 
the corporation. 

Elbert H. Gary, however, stuck heroically to his guns. "This cor- 
poration is so big that, unless you deal fairly with the public, with 
competitors, and with customers, you are bound to encounter trouble 
sooner or later," he told the directors once and again. 

And what has been the result? 

When the United States Government brought suit to dissolve the 
corporation as a "bad trust" it scoured the whole country for wit- 
nesses to testify against it. Yet not one rival, not one customer, not 
one employee, not one member of the public came forward with one 
word against it! The only complaints made were by lawyers and 
others in the pay of the Government. 


Mr. Schwab, testifying in the Government's suit against the Steel 
Corporation, made this explicit statement when questioned about 
steel pools: 

"To the best of my knowledge Judge Gary did not have anything 
to do with these pools. He was opposed to them. When I was 
president of the Steel Corporation, one of the things that I had to 
contend with was Judge Gary's opposition to these things that I had 
been so long accustomed to." 

All opposition to Judge Gary's above-board methods of conducting 
the corporation long since ceased. The idealist had proved the worth 
of his Utopian policies! 

Judge Gary has always insisted that the success of the corporation 
has been due to the splendid ability of the Finance Committee and 
the Board of Directors, but his associates, with more truth, declare 
that the policies and labours of the chairman have been the main 

No stock ticker encumbers Judge Gary's office. He frowns upon 
speculation and never indulges in it himself. In the early days the 
steel directors' meetings were held at noon and some of the men who 
were then on the Board used to plunge heavily, using their inside 
information to hoodwink the public. However, that is a thing of the 

The meetings of the Finance Committee are now held at two o'clock 
and then for the first time the quarterly statements, showing earnings, 
are produced. Soon after they are given to the Board of Directors 
and then to the public, so that no director has any advantage over 
any other stockholder. 

"Looking back, what gives you the greatest satisfaction in your 
whole life's work?" I asked Judge Gary. 

He sat silent for a moment, apparently letting his mind run back 
through the years. 

"If I were to point to just one thing," he replied very deliberately, 
"I would say it has been securing the friendship and confidence of 
the large majority of our great family of employees. Yes," nodded 
the Judge, more to himself than to me, "that has been most worth 
while achieving. That yields more real satisfaction than anything 
else in my life." 

"And what would you name next?" I asked. 

"Assisting to bring about a friendly and cooperative spirit amongst 
the iron and steel fraternity, for this has resulted in eliminating the 
old methods of unreasonable and destructive competition which not 
only did so much to demoralize the steel business in times of depression 
and to drive into bankruptcy many connected with it, but periodically 
had a disastrous effect upon the general business of the country, to 


say nothing of the hardships and idleness it brought upon the work- 

Henry C. Emory, former Professor of Political Science of Yale 
and Chairman of the United States Tariff Board under President 
Taft, in course of an analysis of Judge Gary's services to America 

"What I have chiefly in mind in this regard is the treatment of 
stockholders. I spoke of him as the author of the 'open door' policy. 
Few people realize what a dramatic thing was the first publication 
of the quarterly statement of the affairs of that corporation. Power- 
ful men protested that the public had no right to know. Gary in- 
sisted that 100,000 stockholders had a right to know about their own 
property and that he proposed to tell them. Some thought it a bluff; 
that when the lean quarters came the Judge would not dare to print 
the facts. They didn't know the man or his indifference to the men 
who hang around the ticker. Fat years or lean, whether the common 
stock sold for #10 or $100, the facts as to the condition of the com- 
pany have been revealed every three months. The adoption of such 
a policy of 'pitiless publicity' was as much a landmark in our indus- 
trial history as the organization of the great merger itself — more so, 
in fact. We have heard much recently of the necessity of doing away 
with 'secret diplomacy' after this war is over. By this action toward 
his stockholders and the public Judge Gary dealt a historic blow to 
the policy of secret diplomacy in corporation finance." 

A witty chronicler once said: "Elbert H. Gary was born a bare- 
foot boy." That was both true and untrue. On his father's farm 
where he came into the world, in 1848, in Du Page County, twenty-five 
miles west of Chicago, the boy Gary did sometimes run about without 
shoes or stockings, but from choice, not necessity. His father, an 
upright, rigid New Englander,by hard work, carefulness, and frugality 
earned more than enough to clothe his family. He was a sternly 
practical man. His growing children were given the choice between 
study and work. Elbert preferred school to chores, with which he 
had extensive first-hand acquaintance. 

Curiously, the holding of blackboard races in arithmetic by his 
teacher shaped young Gary's career. One day an uncle, H. F. Val- 
lette, a lawyer of local note, visited the Garys, and the father, proud 
of his boy's mathematical ability, arranged a competition between 
the two. Elbert won. And the uncle, as a reward, offered him a 
place in his office at Naperville to read law. The father's verdict was : 
"Some day Elbert may have a little property and a knowledge of the 
law may help him to keep it." 

He attended Wheaton College, taught school in the country during 
two winters, then entered his uncle's law office for eighteen months, 


went to Chicago as a student and, at twenty, graduated from the 
law department of Chicago University. He got a job at $12 per week 
with the Clerk of the Courts in Cook County, having been recom- 
mended by the head of the law school as the most promising grad- 
uate of the year. He proved himself capable, and by and by rose 
to the highest position in the office. His uncle then took him into 
his Chicago office. 

The day after the great Chicago fire young Gary hired a room in a 
wooden building and hung up a lawyer's sign. 

He made $2,800 in the first year. 

His ambition was to become a judge. By way of gaining standing 
and influence he became the first Mayor of Wheaton. He did not 
have long to wait to realize his ambition : he was duly elected a County 

Some time after this he became interested in iron and steel, as he 
foresaw the world was entering the steel age. On leaving the bench 
he became attorney for several corporations, though retaining his 
general practice. Even in those early days (1891) he contracted the 
combination habit. Through his instrumentality, several plants 
were rolled into the Consolidated Steel & Wire Company of Illinois, a 
$4,000,000 concern, then regarded as a veritable leviathan. More 
mills were secured seven years later and the enlarged enterprise was 
incorporated as the American Steel &A\ ire Company, with $12,000,000 

Gary realized very clearly that combination meant strength. He 
evolved the theory that if he could combine all the units of iron and 
steel manufacture and transportation into a single management, enor- 
mous economies could be effected, unprecedented efficiency could be 
attained, and, as a corollary, handsome dividends earned. 

He had already become a factor in the Illinois Steel Company and 
was on its board. He advocated the formation of a huge consolida- 
tion which would comprise the Illinois Steel Company; the Minnesota 
Iron Company, which owned the mines; the Lorain Steel Company, 
which had works on Lake Erie in Ohio; the Minnesota Steamship 
Company, which would supply the water transportation; the Duluth 
and Iron Range Railroad, which would carry the ore to the lake; the 
Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway and the Mt. Pleasant Coal and 
Coke Company of Pennsylvania. 

Along with Robert Bacon, then a member of J. P. Morgan & 
Co., Judge Gary created the famous Federal Steel Company, the 
$200,000,000 corporation which caused both America and Europe 
to rub eyes. Mr. Morgan was fond of declaring that this was a bigger 
industrial and financial feat than the subsequent organization of the 
United States Steel Corporation. 


Mr. Morgan sent for Judge Gary and told him that, of course, 
there was only one man fitted to take charge of the combination. 

The Judge replied that he didn't care for the job. 

"Why?" demanded Mr. Morgan. 

The Judge explained that he was making more than #75,000 a year 
from his law business in Chicago, that his income was steadily growing, 
and that he was not anxious to leave Chicago. 

"We expect to pay you for coming here," bluntly replied the 
banker. "You can name your own salary — anything you want — 
and for any number of years you want." 

Finally Judge Gary agreed to go for three years, at #100,000 a 
year, until then the highest salary on record. 

"I expected to return to Chicago at the end of the three years," 
said the Judge not long ago, "but here I am." 

How the Steel Corporation came to be formed is this: 

One day Charles M. Schwab, the brightest of all Carnegie's proteges, 
approached Mr. Bacon and intimated that Carnegie might be per- 
suaded to sell out. Mr. Bacon promptly went to Judge Gary, the 
central figure in the great Federal Steel merger. 

The first time Judge Gary broached the matter to Mr. Morgan, the 
latter was unresponsive. A dinner was given shortly afterward by 
the late J. Edward Simmons, president of the Fourth National Bank, 
in honour of Mr. Schwab, and it was on that historic occasion that 
Schwab, with irresistible eloquence and optimism, painted steel rain- 
bows. Mr. Morgan, who was present, was impressed. 

Next morning Mr. Morgan sent for Judge Gary. He was interested 
but said he would do nothing until he first received an assurance 
that Carnegie would sell. However, he spent several hours with the 
Judge going over the possibilities of the proposition. The desired 
assurance from Carnegie was in time forthcoming, and the machinery 
for forming the greatest business organization the world has ever 
known was set in motion. 

Much has been said and written about the "Gary dinners." It 
was the panic of 1907 that started them. The first was held in the 
dark days of November of that year when the financial heavens were 
falling and industry was prostrate. 

Instead of cut-throat competition, unbridled demoralization and 
wholesale discharge of employees, it was there and then resolved to 
act unitedly in an effort to stay the panic. Committees were ap- 
pointed covering every branch of the iron and steel industry, and, to 
make a long story short, prices were steadied, bankruptcy-breeding 
tactics were checked, and order evolved out of chaos and threatened 

Whether this was technically legal or illegal, I do not pretend to 


judge. But I do know that the results for business, for labour, and 
for the country as a whole were invaluable. As soon as the Ad- 
ministration intimated opposition to these gatherings (in 191 1), 
they were discontinued. 

E. N. Hurley, then vice-president of the Federal Trade Commission, 
in making an eloquent appeal for cooperation at the 1916 dinner 
of the Iron and Steel Institute, proudly proclaimed that the com- 
mission had recommended the passage of a bill removing all legal 
restraint of cooperation and combination among manufacturers to 
build up foreign trade. His peroration was a rousing appeal for such 

When the deafening applause had subsided Judge Gary, who was 
presiding, rose and said: "'Do I sleep, do I dream, or are visions 
about?' I could close my eyes and imagine I was attending one of 
the old-fashioned Gary dinners. If cooperation is wise in respect 
to export business, why is it not a good principle with reference to 
domestic business ?" 

Was there ever neater retort r 

The esteem in which Judge Gary is held by the steel trade was 
demonstrated by a notable tribute paid him by competitors and cus- 
tomers at a complimentary dinner given in his honour in 1909 by the 
independent iron and steel manufacturers of the United States and 

It was not the presentation to him of an enormous solid gold loving 
cup that made the occasion memorable in steel annals. It was the 
character of the gathering and the tenor of the addresses delivered. 
Here were chiefs of rival concerns paying a unique tribute to the head 
of the most powerful rival of them all. And they spoke of him, not 
as a foe, not even merely as a friend, but as a father, the far-seeing, 
beneficent father and counsellor of them all. It was on this occasion 
that Mr. Schwab, the first president of the corporation, magnani- 
mously admitted that in his differences with Judge Gary the latter 
had always been right and he (Schwab) wrong. 

"I am thankful for this opportunity of saying one thing, Judge," 
said Mr. Schwab. "You and I have been associated in business, or 
we were, for some years; we have had many differences, and I am 
glad of this opportunity to say publicly that with my bounding en- 
thusiasm and optimism I was wrong in most instances — indeed, in all 
instances — and you were right. The broad principles that you 
brought into this business were new to all of us who had been trained 
in a somewhat different school. . . . This, sir, is the first time 
in the history of the industry when the great heads of all the big con- 
cerns in the United States and Canada have gathered to do honour 
to a man who has introduced a new and successful principle in our 


great industry. Judge Gary, you should be a very happy man 

It was on this occasion, too, that Mr. Morgan made one of the 
extremely few speeches of his lifetime. 

He was so overcome by emotion and nervousness that, to hold him- 
self up, he grasped the back of his chair with one hand and leaned 
upon the shoulder of another diner. Before he sat down, tears were 
trickling down his cheeks and he whispered to his friend that, had 
he not leaned upon him, he never would have been able to remain on 
his feet. Mr. Morgan's speech contained one touching sentence. 
The speech is perhaps worth giving in full: 

"I wish it were in my power to say all that I would like to say on 
this occasion. What I might say at another time would be pretty 
poor, but to-night I am very much overcome by all that I have heard 
said, for Judge Gary and I have been working together now for ten 
years in a way perhaps none of you appreciate, or how much it has 
meant to me. I feel as though we were all just together. It is impossi- 
ble for me to say more, and I must ask you to accept my appreciation 
of how deeply I feel for the kind evidence of your sentiments toward 
me to-night. Gentlemen, let me ask you to excuse me from saying 

Judge Gary has come to be recognized as one of the most effective 
public speakers in the country. Indeed, the addresses of no private 
citizen attract more universal attention. He does not indulge in 
flights of high-falutin* oratory; it is the worth, the weight, the wisdom 
of what he says that commands the respect of all classes, rich and 
poor, capitalists and workmen. 

During a visit to the Orient in 191 6 Mr. and Mrs. Gary received 
a reception such as is usually reserved for royalty. How much he then 
accomplished in fostering goodwill between the Orient and the 
United States cannot easily be gauged. His friendly attitude, his 
frank utterances, his full understanding of these often-misjudged 
peoples did much to dispel misconception and to pave the way for 
warmer international relations in the future. He followed up his 
"unofficial diplomatic visit," so to speak, with a series of magazine 
articles which further contributed to drawing together the Oriental 
nations and the United States in bonds of friendship and respect. 

Judge Gary is married but has no son to fill his shoes. 

The Judge can seldom be persuaded to talk of his part in the up- 
building of the greatest industrial enterprise mankind has ever known, 
hence most of the facts here set forth have had to be collected from 
the published records, from his intimates, and from personal knowledge 
covering almost the entire life of the corporation. 



A GROUP of notable Americans, all self-made but one, were 
patting themselves on the back. Each was telling how poor 
he was at the start, how hard he worked — and, well, here he 
was to-day, something very big that had grown from nothing. 

The one man of wealthy parentage listened politely to the recital. 
Then he blurted out: "You fellows worked because you had to. 
It was a case with you of work or starve. I didn't need to do a stroke 
of work unless I wanted to. As you know, my family had money. 
But I have worked just as hard as any of you, not from necessity, 
but from choice. You had no alternative. I had." 

William A. Gaston, head of the largest financial institution east of 
New York, was not the man who said this. But he might have been. 
Instead of selecting the primrose path of ease, he chose to enter the 
lists and win his own spurs. Instead of contenting himself with 
being an onlooker, he decided to become a doer. 

He has succeeded. Colonel Gaston has won recognition and high 
place, not in one line of endeavour, but in three — and the end is not 
yet. He first distinguished himself as a lawyer; then as a business 
man and corporation executive; later as a banker and financier. He 
has also rendered useful service in civic and political life, and his 
intimates prophesy that he is destined to make his mark as a states- 

There is none of the proverbial Bostonian haughtiness about 
"Billy" Gaston. He is democratic not only in politics, but in person. 
John L. Sullivan is just as real a friend as Theodore Roosevelt, his 
second at Harvard when young Gaston, in a memorable fight, won 
the middleweight boxing championship of his university in days 
when boxing meant hard fighting. 

Nearly all successful business men possess fighting qualities. 
Commodore Vanderbilt was a fighter. Harriman, Hill, and Morgan 
were fighters. Men who aspire to do big things must have daring, 
must have courage, must have self-confidence. They must be pre- 
pared to accept risks. They must exhibit boldness when others 
show timidity. 

Gaston's valour did not forsake him when he left college. He 
carried it with him into his business life. And New England once 
had reason to be grateful that he did. During the 1907 panic, when 
industrial foundations became as quicksand and the strongest of 



enterprises became shaky, William A. Gaston stepped to the front 
and fought to check the debacle. It will be recalled that hundreds of 
banks throughout the country began to scramble for gold, while 
business men were harshly ordered to pay off loans, and influential 
city financial institutions acted panicky, hoarding their specie like 
misers and dunning borrowers to pay up instantly at any cost. 

Gaston had not been many months in the banking business when 
this occurred. But the courage he showed in his college days and 
later at the bar and in business again distinguished his conduct. 
Instead of following the stampede, he adopted the historic policy 
I pursued by the Bank of England in times of grave crises and used his 
resources freely, encouraging others to meet the panic with confidence. 

Many New England institutions looked to the National Shawmut 
Bank, the largest in the New England field, for a cue as to what 
course should be followed. Some of the bank's directors urged that 
self-preservation was the first law of finance as of life and that the 
institution should look out for number one. President Gaston had 
larger and less cowardly ideas of banking and of his responsibilities. 
On November 15, when the demoralization was at its height, he sent 
out the following letter to every bank in the country having relations 
with the Shawmut, counselling calmness, courage, and financial 

"Dear Sir: — In the period of such stringency of the money market 
as we are now experiencing, it is of the utmost importance that the 
banks shall renew, so far as it lies in their power, the notes which 
may be maturing of merchants and manufacturers and others who 
are worthy of credit. 

"In many cases it is utterly impossible for perfectly solvent busi- 
ness houses either to borrow new money or to collect their receivables, 
which ordinarily are paid, or to sell their merchandise, and if they are 
forced unnecessarily by the banks to pay their notes, bankruptcy or 
receivership is sure to follow. 

"In order to restore business affairs to a normal state, a general 
liquidation of business must take place. This, we believe, every 
merchant is attempting to do to. the extent of his ability, but the 
banks and trust companies must, in our opinion, do their share by 
extending maturing notes in whole or in part. The fewer the number 
of solvent merchants who are forced to pay their debts where it 
means hardship, the fewer the failures, and, consequently, the sooner 
a restoration of confidence and a normal condition of the money 
market will ensue. 

"We therefore urge you, as far as is in your power, to help the 
serious mercantile situation in this way." 


I emphasize this incident because such conduct was rare rather 
than common in those dark days. I mention it because this action 
is characteristic of Gaston. I dwell upon it because the service he 
then rendered industrial and financial New England cannot be meas- 
ured in dollars. In these current days we are learning to appreciate 
personal valour. 

Blood will tell, they say. If so, Gaston's moral and physical 
strength and courage are entirely logical. He comes of good blood 
on both sides. From his mother he inherited the blood and spirit of 
the Beechers, a family that for a hundred years has given to the re- 
public a succession of men and women devoted to religion, high princi- 
ple, and humanity. Colonel Gaston's mother was a cousin of the 
famous preacher, Henry Ward Beecher. On his father's side, he is 
directly descended from a Huguenot family who left France because 
of religious troubles; went to Scotland, thence to Ireland, where was 
born his great-great-grandfather who emigrated and settled in this 
country in Killingly, Connecticut, where Mr. Gaston's father first 
saw the light of day. Gaston's home influence was the very best. 
His father was Mayor of Roxbury, Mayor of Boston during the 
Great Fire in 1 872, State Representative, Senator, and finally Governor 
of Massachusetts in 1875, being the first democratic Governor after 
the Civil War. Until his death in 1894, Governor Gaston continued 
to have a great influence in Massachusetts affairs. His utter lack of 
race or religious bigotry, his friendship for the newer peoples that 
came to this country and his assistance and counsel to them; his 
record as a statesman and lawyer, made him one of the great charac- 
ters in Massachusetts during the last generation. 

This story of Colonel Gaston's ancestors is told merely to show 
what lies back of him, and to explain the principles of tradition and 
honourable living, square dealing and public service which he was 
taught as a child. Born in Roxbury on May 1, 1859, he was educated 
in the Roxbury public schools, in the Roxbury Latin School, and 
finally at Harvard University, from which he graduated in 1880 with 
the degree of A.B. He was never a prize scholar but had a record 
as a normal, wholesome lad more interested in athletics than academic 
honours. His Harvard class has since become famous; it included 
such men as Theodore Roosevelt; Robert Bacon, later to become a 
partner in J. P. Morgan & Company and ambassador to France; 
Robert Winsor, head of the great banking house of Kidder, Peabody 
& Company; Josiah Quincy, and Richard L. Saltonstall, later to 
become one of Mr. Gaston's partners. These were close companions 
and have remained so to this day. 

Gaston entered the Harvard Law School and was admitted to the 
bar when twenty-four. His education was rounded out by a long 


tour through Europe. On his return he took up legal work in his 
father's office. He earned #400 in the first year — and lived on it. 

He first began to show his worth in arguments before juries; but 
his grasp of business problems developed so markedly that important 
corporation cases were turned over to him. The acute depression 
of 1893 brought many business troubles, and the courts for several 
years had their hands full. Young Gaston distinguished himself by 
his business sense, his aptitude for straightening out financial tangles, 
his ability in aiding the reconstruction and rehabilitation of weakened 
enterprises. J. Ogden Armour recently remarked to me that business 
must nowadays be done with a lawyer and a chemist; in those days a 
lawyer was a very necessary adjunct to most corporations. 

In the late nineties, when street transportation interests of Boston 
were getting into a very bad way, the West End Street Railway was 
a series of separate companies, and consolidation into one central 
corporation was decided upon as the only feasible course to avert 
bankruptcy. This proposition met with legislative opposition, and 
everything became hopelessly muddled. One night Col. William A. 
Gaston was called out of bed by a committee of West End stock- 
holders who appealed to him as a public-spirited citizen to sacrifice 
his lucrative law practice, at least temporarily, and straighten out the 
situation before the threatened total wreck occurred. 

He at first demurred, but it was probably the sporting side of the 
proposition which appealed to him; at all events, he assumed the 
duties of active manager and reorganizer of the local traction com- 
panies and organized them into one large company, now known as the 
Boston Elevated Road. He continued to manage this organization 
for about five years, during which time he built up the road, im- 
proved the service, giving Bostonians a longer ride for a nickel than 
any other community in the United States had gotten up to that 
time, and in the meanwhile by sound business methods strengthened 
the company's position financially until it was an attractive invest- 
ment. Wages of the employees were raised to the maximum level 
then current in the United States. Workmen's compensation methods 
were introduced ten years before this legislation was passed by the 
legislature. Benefit societies were put on a sound business booking; 
an insurance system was instituted, and satisfactory arrangements 
were made for the handling of promotions on a civil service basis. 

The era of trusts set in shortly after President McKinley's election 
in 1896 and was in flood tide during the years Mr. Gaston rehabili- 
tated Boston's street and elevated railway systems. The task in- 
volved the spending of many millions of dollars, the letting of numer- 
ous contracts, the purchase of great quantities of material, etc. 
Under the code prevalent in the late nineties and the early years 


of the new century, it was considered entirely permissible for cor- 
poration directors and heads to form little companies or firms which 
were allowed to earn enormous profits from dealings with the larger 
enterprises dominated by those owning these side lines. 

Gaston refused point-blank to countenance any such flimflamming. 
All contracts were advertised and awarded in the open. Not only 
did he scorn to participate in profits illegitimately filched from the 
Boston Elevated, but he saw to it that no one else took advantage of 
the company. There would be nothing creditable about taking such a 
stand at this time of day. But his insistence on such methods more 
than fifteen years ago called for a good deal of independence and self- 
assertion. Having spent nearly five crowded years in this work 
(from 1897 to 1901) he handed over the management of the property 
to others. 

It has been said by one of our great American publicists that if all 
railroad executives during the last twenty years had viewed their 
responsibilities like "Billy" Gaston we would have been saved the 
railroad troubles of the last fifteen years. 

Mr. Gaston since boyhood entertained a natural desire to succeed 
his father as governor of Massachusetts. In 1901 the Democratic 
Party had reached a very low point in regard to votes and influence. 
He accepted its nomination for governor, and put the same business 
abilities and methods which had built up the elevated road and made 
his other lines of enterprises active and successful into party reorganiz- 
ation, and the campaigns of 1902 and 1903 gave the Republican or- 
ganization much to worry about. The time, however, was not 
politically propitious. Although as a result of this reorganization 
the Democratic Party in the state was put on an effective fighting 
basis and has since succeeded in electing three democratic gover- 
nors, Mr. Gaston, though he doubled the party vote and could have 
remained in the field without contest, and undoubtedly elected, 
refused to be a candidate after his second campaign. 

He has been honoured many times by his party — as Colonel on 
Governor Russell's staff, which gives him the title by which he is best 
known; as a delegate-at-large to the National Democratic Conven- 
tion; as Democratic National Committeeman; and as president of the 
Massachusetts Electoral College which chose President Woodrow 
Wilson — the first body since 1820 in Massachusetts to vote for a 
Democratic president. 

It may be recollected that in the spring of 1907 there were ominous 
financial rumblings. Security values declined silently but alarmingly. 
Far-sighted financiers accepted the warning and pulled in sail. 
There had been enormous industrial and commercial growth, involv- 
ing a corresponding expansion in bank credit. The situation con- 


tained ugly elements. Colonel Gaston had returned to the practice 
of law in 1904 and his firm had become one of the foremost in New 
England. But again he was called upon to undertake a highly re- 
sponsible task. The directors of the Shawmut National Bank were 
not blind to the unnerving financial undercurrents, and they were 
anxious to have at the head of their institution a man of the very first 

In May Colonel Gaston was installed as president. Almost before 
he had time to find his bearings the storm broke. Hundreds of 
banks and trust companies throughout the country, among which 
many in New England were included, began struggling to hoard gold. 
Mr. Gaston realized that a critical time had come. If business men 
were harshly ordered by their banks to pay off their loans, and the 
influential financial institutions were to lead in the cry of panic and 
in hoarding their cash like misers, while dunning borrowers to pay up 
instantly, the end would be a national panic with general suffering 
which would equal the panic of 1893. Mr. Gaston thereupon adopted 
a characteristic attitude. He called a meeting of his Board of Direc- 
tors, showed them concrete instance after instance where banks and 
trust companies had been hoarding gold instead of helping business 
men, and as a result solvent concerns were being forced to the wall. 
The letter already reproduced was the result. It was later admitted 
that this act more than anything else mitigated in New England the 
severity of the crisis. Its bravery and altruism even had an effect 
all over the United States, where its example was followed. 

Another example of Mr. Gaston's far-sightedness was shown shortly 
after he became president of the bank, when he helped to finance a 
journey to South America of graduates of the Boston High School 
of Commerce, primarily to acquaint them with the possibilities of 
South America, but more especially in order to bring home to New 
Englanders the fact that its future business was bound up in that 
direction. As president of the National Shawmut, he has been 
working quietly but persistently with the idea of extending our 
trade in the South American countries. The Shawmut Bank is 
to-day being represented by, and is in turn the American agent of, 
powerful financial South American institutions. 

Mr. Gaston headed the Finance Committee which collected funds 
for the Wilson campaign in 191 2. When certain financial interests 
were incensed over the appointment of William G. McAdoo as Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, and opposed from the beginning the passage of 
the new Currency Bill, the attitude of many Boston bankers was 
that the worse the Democratic measure could be made the better, 
since it would defeat itself. Mr. Gaston took the contrary view. 

During the discussion of this financial legislation, which resulted 


in the enactment of the Federal Reserve Law, he made a score of 
trips to Washington to consult with the members of the committee on 
behalf of the House and the Senate and with such leaders as Repre- 
sentative Glass and Senator Owen, and, of course, the Secretary of 
the Treasury. Perhaps more than any other man in New England, 
his opinion was sought in the passage of this bill, which in the opinion 
of the practical financial interests of the United States has been a 
great success. 

While this was going on, the Clearing House Committee, appointed 
by the Clearing House Association, to which belong most of the na- 
tional banks of Boston, held a preliminary meeting, and proposed 
to call a general meeting of clearing house banks to pass resolutions 
condemning the pending legislation in Congress. Mr. Gaston took 
the position in this matter that if such a meeting were called, he would 
attend and dissent from the vote and would do everything he could 
to influence similar action by other financial institutions. The pro- 
posed meeting was abandoned. 

About this time the American Bankers' Association held their 
annual meeting in Boston, and an attempt was made to organize a 
movement to discredit the Currency Act then before Congress. 
Determined action on the part of Mr. Gaston and his associates pre- 
vented the contest in this convention which would have followed 
the introduction of the proposed condemnatory resolutions. 

This assistance to the administration was wholly impersonal and 

Again, when a critical situation was created by the urgent need for 
gold after the European war began and it became necessary to form 
a gold pool, powerful opposition was exerted on the ground that 
the gold was needed here more than in England. The National 
Shawmut Bank in New England contributed very heavily to the 
Gold Pool, which was the means of producing a proper exchange basis 
between the two countries. To-day financial men then opposing 
this measure see and admit the courage and wisdom of Gaston's 

Another instance where Mr. Gaston was wise enough and brave 
enough to oppose those immediately around him who thought he was 
temporarily acting against their interests, was in relation to the 
Cotton Pool, formed after the opening of the great war. England's 
attitude on cotton exportation had made imminent the danger of a 
collapse in the price of cotton, and threatened southern cotton pro- 
ducers, cotton buyers, and dealers with bankruptcy and ruin. In this 
crisis the government asked northern and eastern banking interests 
to put up money in order that the Federal Reserve Board could buy 
cotton and keep its price within reasonable bounds. The Clearing 


House Committee of the Boston Banks was asked to meet the repre- 
sentatives of the cotton manufacturers of New England, who took the 
position that inasmuch as they had paid excessively high prices for 
cotton for years, the profits on their manufactured cotton goods being 
reduced or wiped out because of former high prices of cotton, now 
that cotton was down to a low price, Boston banks had no right to 
help to keep the price up artificially by such a means as the proposed 
pool, especially as the money contributed for this pool would come 
from institutions largely interested in low-price cotton. At this time 
there were six or eight cotton mill treasurers on the Board of Directors 
of the Shawmut Bank and many other directors interested in cotton 
manufacturing. Under Mr. Gaston's leadership the Shawmut Bank 
voted, with a few dissenters on the Board of Directors, to authorize 
the President to contribute to the Cotton Pool, which, however, was 
not called for. 

While a number of Boston banks refused to go into this Cotton 
Pool, those most strenuous in their opposition now realize that it was 
the broad, patriotic thing to do, and they like Mr. Gaston all the 
better for his insistence. They are never in doubt as to what his 
position is, and experience has taught them that his judgment is 
unbiased by selfish considerations. 

Colonel Gaston's reputation for ability to pull a desperate cause 
out of the hole is constantly bringing him to the front— often against 
his innate desire to remain out of the limelight. When the Young 
Men's Christian Association wanted a new $500,000 building, Colonel 
Gaston was coaxed into leadership of the campaign — and succeeded. 

Next he organized the $300,000 campaign to get a Young Men's 
Christian Association building in Charlestown, Mass., for the enlisted 
men of the navy. 

When John L. Mott, general secretary of the Y. M. C. A., wanted 
somebody to get money contributions in New England to the fund 
for maintaining the prison camps in the war countries, it was Colonel 
Gaston to whom he came. 

When the Liberty Loan Committee was threatened with a desperate 
situation, it called on Colonel Gaston, who got together at an 
hour's notice two hundred of New England's leading capitalists in 
the Exchange Club and from that moment there was no more doubt 
of the success of New England's efforts. 

As a member of the Executive Committee of the Red Cross to 
raise the $100,000,000 fund he did more than his share. And so on 
in every work for patriotic purposes he is to be found quietly inspiring 
others to work while carrying the major burden himself. 

Mr. Gaston's capacity for leadership is demonstrated even in his 
country life. About ten years ago he bought a farm in Barre, 


Mass., to which he devotes a great deal of attention. As a 
lover of animals he uses this as a breeding place for all kinds of 
fancy stock, and has interested himself in the affairs of the local 
community, being elected president of one of the oldest agricultural 
societies in the country, the Barre Agricultural Society. 

His Alma Mater conferred upon him the coveted honour of election 
as a member of its Board of Trustees when he was only forty-six 
years of age. 

With his wife and four children he is very happy in his home life. 
His eldest son, who inherits the family name of William and with it 
its qualities, is now training as an aviator and by the time this ap- 
pears will probably be in active service in France. 

New England needs such men as William A. Gaston. For almost 
ioo years after the American Revolution, New England held undis- 
puted primacy in the nation's industrial and commercial leadership. 
After the Civil War, New York clinched the financial control in 
which it has been growing stronger every year, carrying with it far- 
reaching consequences to New England — consequences all the more 
serious because up to a few years ago the conservatives in control of 
New England business and finance refused to face or accept the facts. 

It was New England capital that had built up and developed 
Western farms, mines, and railroads. The returns from these in- 
vestments were so satisfactory, and the sense of power inherent in 
this ownership so tickling to New England sectional pride, that the 
fact that financial control of the money market had passed to New 
York, which not only secured control of the Western, but also of the 
New England railroads, and with this the right to restrict and even 
to deny to New England the needed transportation improvements, 
was, if considered at all, not discussed or openly admitted. 

The fact that New England had each succeeding year turned out 
more shoes, cotton, and woolen products than the year previously 
was accepted as sufficient proof of progress. 

Only within the last ten years has New England begun to awaken 
to the knowledge that relatively it is slipping behind. While its 
absolute primacy in the manufactures of its standard staples con- 
tinues, the relative progress of Missouri in shoe manufacture and 
of the Carolinas in the production of cotton fabrics, make those states 
press Massachusetts hard for first place. 

In addition to the false security engendered by the belief that with- 
out contest New England was destined permanently to retain the in- 
dustrial leadership of the United States, there has come to be accepted 
in Massachusetts without much protest and even with some compla- 
cency, the belief that the state, which has always prided itself on 
leading all the commonwealths in regulating hours of work and pro- 


tecting the child and woman labour, is the natural laboratory to 
try out all kinds of half-baked, socialistic theories. Railroad and 
banking laws, copied by Western states twenty-five years after being 
enacted in Massachusetts, were used to justify the claim of these 
frontier states to leadership in radicalism, the fact being that most of 
these laws have been so long in force successfully in Massachusetts 
that their origins are forgotten. 

The result of transportation isolation and socialistic domination 
in legislation is that manufacturers are not encouraged to build fac- 
tories in a state in which taxes are disproportionately high and the 
laws under which business is done more stringent than competing 
states in which every inducement is offered to new enterprises and 
a premium placed upon their coming. Massachusetts has skilled 
labour and competent employers, but this is not enough. 

Massachusetts bankers who have been satisfied with the volume 
of bank clearings, because they were larger each year than the year 
before, have also only recently awakened to the fact that the per- 
centage of this increase is but half that of the nation as a whole. 
Only recently are Massachusetts manufacturers waking up to the 
knowledge that their transportation system is intolerable, not only 
making it difficult for domestic competition in local products, but 
operating to retard the growth of the chief asset of New England — 
its water front — because of the impossibility of ships to get out- 
cargoes for export from New England ports. 

Only within the last few years also have New England manufac- 
turers and the people generally awakened to the fact that the Ameri- 
can market for New England goods is no longer sufficient to keep their 
factories going full time. New England competitors in manufactur- 
ing, in other parts of the country, with nearness to hydro-electric 
facilities, fuel, raw material, and better transportation facilities, 
have an unquestioned advantage in the home market. The only 
hope for constant employment of American wage earners after the 
war is a share of the world's foreign trade, and there again the trans- 
portation handicap against New England becomes important. 

What New England needs to-day is Men, and fortunately for the 
section, it is meeting the demand. Foremost in this company of 
captains whose opportunity and privilege it is to lead New England 
in this struggle for its future, is William A. Gaston. 



WHEN the news came that an army engineer would be 
chosen to build the canal, we all immediately thought of 
Goethals," declared General Mackenzie, then chief of the 
United States Corps of Engineers. 

Why did General Mackenzie and other eminent army engineers at 
once know that a mere major was the ideal man for the job? Why 
did Theodore Roosevelt appoint him ? Why did Secretary of War 
Taft decide that this little-advertised officer was the best man in the 
land for the biggest job confronting the nation ? 

Because Goethals was born under a lucky star? No. It was be- 
cause he had fitted himself to meet the opportunity and to measure 
up to it. It was not because of good fortune, but because of his 
record. It was not because of any influence, but because of his 
demonstrated ability. It was not because of chance, but because of 
his character. It was not because of "pull," but because of his per- 

When the Goddess of Opportunity sought a man she went straight 
to Goethals's door. When she knocked he was ready, ready to go 
forth and link the Atlantic and the Pacific, to break the backbone of 
two continents, to overcome obstacles that had defied others, to per- 
form the greatest engineering and constructive feat of all time. 

His antecedents, his record up to that date? 

A Brooklyn lad of Dutch descent, born June 29, 1858, he went to 
work as an errand boy in New York when only eleven. At fourteen 
he began keeping books for a produce market man after school and 
on Saturdays. His pay was gradually increased from $5 a week to 
#15, and he contrived to put himself through the College of the City of 
New York. He matriculated at Columbia with a view to becoming a 
doctor, the favourite family profession, but the day-and-night work 
and study having affected his health, he decided to gain admission 
to West Point. President Grant ignored a letter on the subject, but 
young Goethals, undaunted, prevailed upon "Sunset" Cox, then a 
notable political figure in New York, to recommend him after he had 
given an assurance that he would make good — which several young 
blades sponsored by Cox had not done. 

Entering West Point on April 21, 1876, the slender, light-haired, 
blue-eyed youth exhibited the same grit which had enabled him to 



earn a college education and developed the qualities which were to 
win him international fame. Thus: He graduated second in scholar- 
ship in a class of fifty-four and was one of the only two graduates con- 
sidered worthy of selection for the coveted Engineers' Corps. He was 
chosen one of the four captains of the Cadet Corps. He was elected 
president of his class. He had, therefore, won the highest distinction 
in scholarship, in military skill, and as a leader of his associates, a rare 

His first commanding officer, knowing the tendency of young army 
engineers to indulge in strutting, set Goethals to work carrying a rod. 
He did not object; he merely told his superior, "I am here to learn." 
And learn he did. In two years he was promoted from second lieu- 
tenant to first lieutenant, and gained his captaincy nine years later, in 

It was not his rank, however, that distinguished him from other 
army engineers, but his abilities and his achievements. "Whatever 
I gave him to do I immediately dismissed from my mind because 
I knew it would be done right," said one of his superiors. While still 
in the twenties, he was chosen instructor in civil and military engineer- 
ing at the United States Military Academy; later he was placed in 
charge of the Mussel Shoals Canal construction on the Tennessee 
River; was signally honoured by being called to Washington as a 
member of the General Staff, and was made a member of the Board of 
Fortifications (for coast and harbour defence). 

No matter what his station, no matter what the nature of his duties, 
no matter with whom he had to deal, Goethals displayed not merely 
technical skill of high order, but the rarer quality of statesmanship in 
handling men. Wherever he went, among whomever he worked, he 
inspired a loyalty and enthusiasm that produced 100 per cent, results. 

"To accomplish successfully any task," Colonel Goethals told a 
graduating class at West Point, "it is necessary not only that you 
should give it the best that is in you, but that you should obtain for 
it the best there is in those who are under your guidance. To do 
this you must have confidence in the undertaking and confidence in 
your ability to accomplish it, in order to inspire the same feeling in 
them. You must have not only accurate knowledge of their capabili- 
ties, but a just appreciation and a full recognition of their needs and 
rights as fellowmen. In other words, be considerate, just, and fair 
with them in all dealings, treating them as fellow-members of the 
great Brotherhood of Humanity." 

Goethals did not dig the Panama Canal with steam shovels. He 
dug it with men. Since everything must be done through men, 
Goethals's rule is to give first attention to men. By picking the right 
kind of men and then by treating them with absolute fairness, any- 


thing within the power of man can be accomplished. To join two 
oceans had been the dream of great men for centuries; but while 
others only dreamed or failed, Goethals went ahead and achieved 
triumphant results. 

"As a soldier," he says, "I have always considered 'Do' an essential 
element of duty. In analyzing men for detail duty on the canal, I 
found that the man with military training had an advantage in 
knowing how to obey. Service is nothing more than obedience in a 
broad sense. If you escape duty you avoid action. Stern duties do 
not require harsh commands. Knowledge of our duties is the most 
essential part of the philosophy of life." 

And again: "How many business men ever make an inventory of 
their employees? Do they give as much attention to the human 
equation as they do to machinery ?" 

Goethals is the Kitchener of America. Both were trained as mili- 
tary engineers. Both developed remarkable executive force. Both 
had the faculty of enthusing and inspiring men. Both became leaders 
of the same type — extremely insistent upon obedience,. intolerant of 
excuses for failure, implacable of delay, autocratic in certain respects, 
yet just and considerate. Kitchener's eyes were not unlike those of 
Goethals' — keen, searching, piercing. Goethals has studied Kitch- 
ener's career and it is safe to assume that Kitchener studied the 
achievements of Goethals. 

Goethals once remarked: "The world demands results. It is 
recorded that Lord Kitchener, when a subordinate during the South 
African war began to explain a failure to obey orders, said, 'Your 
reasons for not doing it are the best I ever heard; now go and do it!' 
That is what the world demands to-day." 

Both Kitchener and Goethals have been called despots. Certainly 
no man not wearing a crown ever wielded such autocratic authority 
as was invested in Goethals during the building of the Panama Canal. 
He ruled with all the old-time freedom of the Sultan of Zanzibar or 
the Russian Czar. But his rule was founded on exact justice. 
Goethals accepted and acted upon the principle that there is a Brother- 
hood of Humanity. His fearlessness was never divorced from fairness. 
Power, he recognized, is only opportunity to do what is right. 

When he held informal "court" every Sunday morning at his office 
and heard every comer, white, black, or in-between, he had wider 
authority than the United States Supreme Court; yet he played the 
role of fatherly adviser rather than a cold legal functionary. Wives 
of all colours came to him to reclaim erring husbands; labourers with a 
grievance against their foremen received respectful attention; men 
dismissed could lay their cases fully before him. These Sunday morn- 
ing sessions made the administration of the Canal Zone possible. 


They were a unique combination of theoretical autocracy and applied 
democracy. They were Panama's safety valve. Wrongdoers knew 
that "The Colonel " could deport them from the Isthmus with a 
stroke of his pen — but they also knew that if they did the right thing 
he would see to it that they got a square deal. 

What the public wants to know is how Goethals achieved the ap- 
parently impossible; how he found time not only to meet and solve 
engineering problems, not only how to succeed in building the canal, 
but also how he, an army officer, was able to become so successful an 
administrator; how he managed to keep a formerly lawless land 
peaceful and law-abiding — how, in short, he achieved such signal 
results in dealing both with machinery and with human beings. 

The situation that confronted Goethals when he was dispatched 
to Panama was appalling. The great De Lesseps, builder of the 
Suez Canal, when he tackled the problem of sundering the American 
continents had declared confidently: "The canal will be built." But 
after spending #260,000,000 and losing many thousands of lives the 
French had to acknowledge defeat after ten years' labours. President 
McKinley had appointed a commission to investigate Central Ameri- 
can canal routes in 1899, but it remained for President Roosevelt to 
get action. In his own words: "I took Panama and left Congress 
to debate it later," paralleling the late E. H. Harriman's reputed 
method of ordering boards of directors to vote first and talk after- 
ward. By paying French interests #40,000,000 and Panama 
$10,000,000 in cash and agreeing to an annual payment of #250,000 
in perpetuity, the United States on May 4, 1904, took over the ten- 
mile Canal Zone stretching from Colon on the Atlantic to Panama on 
the Pacific. Colombia had tried to prevent the secession and was 

Of machinery for the administration of the new territory there was 
virtually none. There had been over fifty revolutions in that region 
in about as many years. Crime, violence, vice, disease, had held 
revel there for decades. 

Congress appointed a "seven-headed" commission to administer 
the affairs of the Zone and to dig the canal. The job proved too big, 
too complicated, too difficult, too discouraging for the septette. The 
canal was being dug from Washington. Before a roll of mosquito 
netting could be procured it had to be wound with red tape. Re- 
quests for machinery were similarly treated. John F. Wallace, chief 
engineer, threw up the sponge at the end of twelve months after 
having fought valiantly against disheartening odds. 

John F. Stevens stepped into the breach and wrestled with red 
tape, fever epidemics, discontented labour, and construction setbacks. 
Moreover, the chief engineer's acts were open to disapproval by the 


chairman of the Commission, who usually reposed comfortably in 
Washington, D. C, instead of Culebra, C. Z. Stevens, too, gave 

President Roosevelt was angry. He had set his heart upon having 
the Panama Canal built but had encountered nothing but disappoint- 
ment after disappointment, delay after delay, and resignation after 
resignation. This time he determined to appoint a Chief Engineer 
who could not quit, one accustomed to doing things, one who could 
straighten out tangles and "send the dirt flying." He turned to the 
army and there found his man. 

At first merely chief engineer, Goethals within six weeks was ap- 
pointed chairman of the Canal Commission and given practically 
unlimited control. ■ Colonel Goethals proceeded to do things without 
holding perpetual pow-wows with members of boards. His definition 
of boards, committees, and commissions is now historic: "All boards 
are long, narrow, and wooden." 

At last President Roosevelt had found a man after his own heart. 
Hardly had the soldier-administrator reached the Isthmus, early in 
1907, before he abolished all the municipalities, wiped out offices ga- 
lore, divided the Zone into administrative districts, and set up an 
entirely new order. Without specific legal authority, President 
Roosevelt gave Goethals virtually carte blanche. New laws were 
promulgated without bothering with red tape; the whole administra- 
tive machinery was reorganized; new methods of dealing with labour 
were enforced. All this went under the description of "benevolent 
despotism." Colonel Goethals later described his course thus: 

"While there was probably truth in the assertion made at that time 
that the chairman had exceeded his authority and usurped the pre- 
rogatives of the Commission, the end not only justified the means, 
but could have been accomplished in no other way." 

The soldier-become-statesman had been sent to Panama to build 
the canal and he meant to build it. Everything else was subsidiary. 
If the susceptibilities of certain ornamental gentlemen at Washington 
were hurt — unfortunate but inevitable. If things had to be done 
without preliminary cabling and corresponding — the things were done. 
If the health and well-being and recreation of the workers called for 
undiluted paternalism — the necessary steps were taken. Whether 
the President of the United States had a legal right to act without 
specific sanction of Congress was none of the engineer's business. He 
was there to obey Presidential orders and to have his own orders 
obeyed in turn. 

Asked the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations 
during the inevitable Congressional "investigation": 

" Did you ever inquire into the right of the Panama Railroad Com- 


pany, under the laws of the State of New York, to go into the hotel 
business, Colonel Goethals?" 

"No, sir; I got an order from the President of the United States to 
build that hotel and I built it" — referring to the Washington Hotel 
at Colon. 

At first the Panamanians, like a good many others, scoffed at the 
appointment of an army engineer to rule over the Isthmus and carry 
out the greatest constructive job ever attempted on Mother Earth. 
The workmen opined that they had better learn how to salute just-so 
or run dire risk of instant dismissal. They pictured a ha-ha! Colonel, 
gaily decked in a richly trimmed uniform, his chest adorned with 
half-a-dozen medals, his hands carefully protected by gloves, with a 
numerous, obsequious staff of high-born young officers dancing atten- 
dance wherever he travelled by auto or carriage. They expected a 
martinet of martinets. 

Goethals arrived unheralded and was received with no pomp or 
ceremony. He was mild-mannered. This led to a little misunder- 
standing which Goethals settled very characteristically. Union 
leaders waited upon him and told him that if he did not do a certain 
thing they would all resign that evening and stop the whole works. 
Goethals listened politely and shook hands with them as they left — 
without committing himself one way or the other. When evening 
came without any decision they telephoned Goethals. "I thought 
you had all resigned," was his reply. "But you surely don't want to 
tie up the work?" they queried. "I shall not be tying it up; you'll 
be tying it up. You forget this is not a private enterprise but a 
Government job." Puzzled, they next asked, "Well, what are you 
going to do?" 

"Any man not at work to-morrow morning will be permanently 
dismissed. Good-night." Next morning the full force was promptly 
on the job and that virtually ended Goethals's troubles with canal 

They soon learned that he regarded them as friendly co-workers 
on a great task for the Government, that he was prepared to work 
harder than any of them, that he went everywhere and saw everything 
with his own eyes, that he would allow no official, high or low, to 
browbeat a single labourer or treat him unjustly, that his door stood 
wide open every Sunday morning to hear complaints and have justice 
meted out with even hand. They also came to realize that the Colo- 
nel was master of the job, that he was able to swing it — and that 
commanded respect. Moreover, he was even more careful of the 
employees' health than of his own; instead of living in state at Panama 
or Colon, his office headquarters were on Cucaracha Hill, overlooking 
defiant, rebellious Culebra. 


Doctor Gorgas, to whom mankind is debtor, found in Goethals an 
ardent supporter of his brilliant campaign to rout the malarial mos- 
quito and banish fever from the Zone, without which efforts the story 
of canal building under the Americans might have more closely and 
tragically resembled the attempts of the French. 

Napoleon, when an obscure subaltern, used to pore over manuals of 
government as painstakingly as over manuals on manoeuvres. Goe- 
thals acted as if there were no problem of civil administration which he 
had not pondered for years in anticipation of just such duties as now 
were laid upon his shoulders. He handled the volatile Panamanians 
with consummate skill. He handled 50,000 employees, comprising 
over seventy nationalities, as if his sole study and sphere in life had 
been that of a great industrial executive, arousing in them the com- 
petitive spirit to the highest pitch through dividing the canal into 
three sections, Atlantic, Central, Pacific, and pitting them against 
one another in their digging. These were the qualities — it was not 
merely technical engineering knowledge — that built the canal. Colo- 
nel Goethals modestly says there were no new engineering prob- 
lems to be solved, but that there were endless novel problems in 

His attitude toward human beings under his charge is well illus- 
trated by the following passage from another of the inescapable 
Congressional quizzes, the point at issue being an item of #52,000 
for a club-house: 

Chairman: "A #52,000 club-house?" 

Colonel Goethals: "Yes, sir. We need a good club-house, be- 
cause we should give the men some amusement, and keep them out 
of Panama. I believe in the club-house principle." 

Chairman: "That is all right, but you must contemplate a very 
elaborate house ?" 

Colonel Goethals: "Yes, sir. I want to make a town there that 
will be a credit to the United States Government." 

Thr Panamanians were finding Goethals not a martinet but very 
much a man, a human being who understood human beings and 
wanted to treat them as human beings. Everything he did was done 
openly and above board. There were no cabals, no star-chamber 
intriguing, no political wire-pulling, Indeed, Colonel Goethals was a 
practitioner of the gospel of publicity in all his relations with his force 
— just as, at college, he had aligned himself with the anti-secret society 
order, Delta Upsilon. Every man knew his job was safe as long as 
he filled it. His own conception of duty Goethals has defined in these 
words : 

"We are inclined to accept praise or reward for doing nothing more 
than our duty, when as a matter of fact we are entitled to neither, 


since we have done only what is required of us. The plaudits of our 
fellows may be flattering to our vanity, but they are not lasting; by 
the next turn of the wheel they may be changed into abuse and con- 

The world intently watched Colonel Goethals cleave the continent 
in twain. They saw him not merely directing the engineering, con- 
structive and other physical phases of the epochal task, but discharg- 
ing the multifarious duties of civil administration. And the world 
pictured him as among the most heavily burdened men on the planet. 

"Load?" repeated Colonel Goethals to a recent interviewer. 
"There never was a load on me. It was my business to load!" 

He did load, and saw to it that each man properly carried his load. 
By way of example: A rather pompous official with a grievance 
against the Colonel for having sent him certain instructions, entered 
the office one morning and began: 

"I got that letter of yours, Colonel." 

"I beg your pardon, but you must be mistaken; I have written you 
no letter," replied the Colonel. 

"Oh, yes, Colonel — about that work down at Miraflores." 

"Oh, I see," replied the Colonel imperturbably. "You spoke a 
little inaccurately. You mean you received my orders, not a letter. 
You have the orders, so that matter is settled. Was there anything 
else you wished to talk about?" That ended the interview. 

Colonel Goethals was and is a great stickler for having orders 
obeyed to the letter and also to the minute. "My first text-book 
was the calendar," he remarked in reviewing his work at Panama. 
"Few realize the importance of definite dates. It is amazing what 
men can accomplish when given definite task, specific order, and time 
limit. A good many things an executive complains about in his men 
are due to his own lack of preparation and definite instructions. A 
task is either done or not done to-day. The first things I studied in 
building the canal were the time-books." 

When chief of staff in South Africa, Lord Kitchener once sent 
for a railroad manager and asked him what was the shortest time 
in which a train could be run from Johannesburg, then Kitchener's 
headquarters, to a certain town farther south. The official did some 
figuring, then replied: "Thirty-six hours." 

" Have a train ready for me at six o'clock to-morrow morning and 
have me there by six o'clock the following morning," commanded 
Kitchener, and the member of the staff who told me of the incident 
shortly after it occurred added: "We were there by six o'clock, you 
bet." Goethals is like that. He knows what it is physically possible 
to do -within a certain time— and then orders that it be done without 
a tick of delay. 


Not many erring mortals could have been granted the regal powers 
of a Czar, entrusted with the performance of a colossal, many-sided 
task, obliged to deal with some four-score nationalities and emerge 
from the ordeal successfully, without having engendered revolutionary 
sentiments, without having incurred a breath of scandal, without 
any warping of character. A man of smaller calibre would have 
abused his powers, would have misused his prerogatives, would have 
developed into an insufferable and intolerable autocrat. Goethals 
has carried immortal honours as lightly as he carried his canal-building 
"load." Fie has become as little puffed up by the military and civil 
recognition showered upon him as he became depressed when great 
slices of Culebra Hill insisted on sliding into the laboriously hewn 
canal, filling the passageway. 

The view he takes is that he was ordered to do a certain piece of 
work and that he did it. Divided control and scattered responsibility 
having proved unsatisfactory to the Government, it was deemed 
necessary to concentrate authority. "And in principle," he says, 
"there is no difference in delegating legislative authority to fifty or 
one hundred men or to one man; the proposition is the same." 

Curiously, the United States Government a second time called upon 
General Goethals to undertake a task in which the public interest was 
second only to that which centred in the building of the Panama 
Canal. That job involved the devising and constructing of much 
new machinery, new tools and new equipment for use both on land 
and water. Enough soil was excavated to fill a train long enough to 
encircle the earth many times, and entailed, also, enough dynamite- 
hole boring to have bored straight through the earth from New York 
to the roots of some tea garden in China. The new task assigned 
Colonel Goethals was also one of building, not, however, a passage- 
way for ships, but ships themselves. 

Colonel Goethals soon discovered that conditions at Washington 
were not wholly unlike those he first found at Panama. A Govern- 
mental board, inspired more by faith than fact, had proclaimed to a 
world unnerved by submarines that one thousand wooden ships of 
3,000 tons or more would be turned out within eighteen months. When 
the time came to turn promises into performances the canal builder 
was called in. To his utter astonishment he discovered that "birds 
were still nesting in the trees from which the great wooden fleet was 
to be made" and immediately saw "how hopeless the task appeared." 
Nor had the bonds set aside to raise the necessary money been sold. 

"As I regard all boards as long, narrow, and wooden, and being a 
believer in authority, I wanted both money and authority," Colonel 
Goethals told a great gathering of steel manufacturers in New York. 
Realizing that the construction of a thousand wooden ships from trees 


still in the leaf was an impossibility, the Colonel turned to the possi- 
bilities of steel shipbuilding. And he adroitly asked the nation's iron 
and steel men if they would rally behind him in an effort to launch 
3,000,000 tons of steel ships within a year and a half, a question that 
was instantly put to the manufacturers by Chairman Gary of the 
United States Steel Corporation and answered in the affirmative with 
unanimous acclaim. 

As I sat listening to the Colonel address my first impression was 
that his criticisms of conditions at Washington were undiplomatic; 
but when he led up to his straight-from-the-shoulder appeal to the 
body of men who alone could make his plans feasible, everyone realized 
the efficacy of his action. Having secured thus a pledge of loyal sup- 
port, Colonel Goethals was in an advantageous position to deal with 
these men when it came to making hard-and-fast contracts. 

No one realized better than Colonel Goethals the magnitude of his 
new assignment. However, he has a motto: " Begin a work and in 
its accomplishment problems will often solve themselves. " 

"Colonel Goethals has been so long accustomed to deal with sub- 
ordinates and having his will enforced as law that trouble may rise 
when he comes to deal with his equals, men not accustomed to being 
bossed or to render military obedience," someone suggested when 
Goethals was named to build ships. That, however, was not the full 
explanation of his failure to carry out his programme. When he 
found, after protracted, to-be-deplored delays, that he could not have 
sufficient freedom to do effective work, he simply let the President 
know that he was ready to step aside. To get results was more im- 
portant than retention or resignation. He went without a murmur. 

In 1884 General Goethals married Miss Rodman, member of a 
venerable Quaker family, and there is another Goethals working his 
way to the front as an army engineer as well as a young Doctor 
Goethals, the latter in accordance with family trait and tradition. 

I should add that Colonel Goethals was accorded a very high place 
in the vote taken for this series on "Who Are Our Fifty Greatest 
Business Men, Men Who Are Making America ?" showing how he is 
esteemed by men of affairs throughout the country. 



MEYER GUGGENHEIM one day opened his heart and his 
purse to aid a friend who was wrestling heroically with a 
little mining property in Colorado which was threatening to 
ruin him. 

That act of kindness over forty years ago was the basis of the ex- 
traordinary achievements of the Guggenheims in the smelting and 
mining business. 

From control of one tiny smelter in far-off Pueblo, Colorado, the 
famous Guggenheim family, by industry, tenacity, and sacrifice, 
have built up the greatest mining and metallurgical enterprise the 
world has ever known. 

To-day the Guggenheims handle and control 1,000,000,000 pounds 
—500,000 tons — of copper annually, or almost half the entire produc- 
tion of the world (2,250,000,000 pounds). They and their associates 
control the three largest copper mines in the world, the Chile Copper, 
the Utah Copper, and the Kennecott Copper properties. 

Two of the Guggenheim companies alone, the American Smelting 
and Refining Company and the American Smelters Securities Com- 
pany, do a business of over $300,000,000 a year — this exclusive of their 
mining activities. The Guggenheims, too, are the most powerful 
factors in the silver industry in the world, and are very large factors 
in gold, lead, zinc, and a variety of by-products. 

As employers of labour they rank among the very largest in the 
world. They were the first employers, so far as known, to pay several 
employees, in salary and percentage of results, compensation running 
into hundreds of thousands a year — rumour said one man drew up- 
ward of a million a year. 

The man mainly responsible for the phenomenal success of the 
Guggenheim organization is Daniel Guggenheim, whose judgment, 
whose faith in the future, whose ability to inspire men, whose capacity 
for hard work, first under the most trying physical conditions in re- 
mote, uncivilized mining camps, and, later, in the financial arena, have 
won for him a high place among the developers of America. 

Many sides of Daniel Guggenheim are more or less familiar to the 
public — his philanthropies, his long record of welfare work among 
employees, his practical encouragement of American painters, his 
furtherance of musical culture, his love of literature, his interest in 



thoroughbred horses, his fondness for flowers, and his extraordinary 
knowledge of different races and countries, begotten of travel in almost 
every part of the globe. 

But to this list I can make one addition: Mr. Guggenheim is no 
mean philosopher. 

It took all my ingenuity, born of a fairly extensive experience in 
the art of interviewing, to draw Mr. Guggenheim into revealing this 
phase of his character. He did not "open up" until I had suggested 
that a great many people had the idea that men like himself had not 
really won their spurs and their wealth by any unusual effort but had 
simply been "lucky." 

"Yes," said Mr. Guggenheim, "men — not always young men, either 
— sometimes come in here and, looking around my office, say: 'I 
envy you your luxurious office and your opportunities to enjoy the 
best in life.' I tell them: 'It has taken me forty years to earn my 
luxurious office with its beautiful pictures, fresh flowers, and leather- 
cushioned furniture. Year after year I put up with tremendous hard- 
ships, travelling in Mexico, in other foreign countries, and in remote 
parts of the United States. 

"'You prefer the luxuries and refinements of the city, with its 
automobiles, its splendidly appointed homes. You do not care to 
make the sacrifices necessary to attain the success which can make 
the luxuries possible.'" 

"What are some of the things necessary to achieve success ?" I asked. 

"Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice!" Mr. Guggenheim repeated with 
impressive earnestness and ardour, his mind dwelling upon what he 
himself has undergone. 

"Then, above all, you must have tenacity," he went on. "That is 
the greatest quality. Without it, no man can possibly succeed. 
Whether in college, in a profession, or in business, unless a man is 
tenacious, unless he sticks to a thing until he has mastered it, he has 
little chance of succeeding. 

"One failure, you know, leads to another failure — and one success 
leads to another success. Win out in one thing before giving it up 
and trying another. 

"Give me the choice between a man of tremendous brains and abil- 
ity but without tenacity, and one of ordinary brains but with a great 
deal of tenacity and I will select the tenacious one every time. 

"Then, tact is very important. I would rather employ a person 
of no extraordinary ability but who had great tact, than one of con- 
spicuous learning and intelligence without tact. 

"Judgment, initiative, energy, all these are most desirable and 
valuable qualities. But, above all and beyond all, you must have 
tenacity and tact" 


"How did you manage to get this interview with me?" Mr. Gug- 
genheim suddenly asked. "You didn't get it the first time you tried, 
nor the second. But you showed both tenacity and tact. You kept 
at it until you discovered a channel of approach that you knew would 
probably succeed. Your tenacity got you in here, and your tact has 
induced me to talk to you in a way I am not in the habit of talking for 

One of Mr. Guggenheim's favourite aphorisms is, "What is every- 
body's business is nobody's business." He therefore sees to it that 
all details in connection with the business are carefully and efficiently 
looked after. 

I asked one of Mr. Guggenheim's closest colleagues what were his 
most notable qualities, how he had gained leadership in the smelting 
and mining business, why he had outdistanced all competitors. The 
reply, after careful deliberation, was: 

"First, because of his phenomenal judgment, his ability to size up 
a situation correctly. Second, because of his unfailing optimism, his 
faith in the future, his confidence that the country and the metal in- 
dustry and science would progress and develop. Third, because of 
his extraordinary faculty for handling other men, for influencing 
them to see things in the large way in which he sees them himself; his 
knack of inspiring courage and determination in those associated with 
him. Fourth, because of his policy of treating his people thoughtfully 
and generously — I mean his work-people as well as his executives and 
engineers and others high up; recently, as an instance, American Smelt- 
ing insured the lives of all its salaried and daily-wage employees with- 
out a penny of cost to them. Fifth, because he has not been afraid 
to take chances, to spend one million dollars in the chance of making 
ten millions or fifty millions — as in Chile, for example, where a huge 
sum was spent in a most inaccessible part of the world before there 
was any possibility of immediate return." 

A tiny craft which left the shore of Europe in 1847 and was storm- 
tossed on the Atlantic for four long, painful months bore to this land 
Simon Guggenheim, the first of the Guggenheims to come from Swit- 
zerland to this country. With him came his son, a young lad, Meyer 
Guggenheim, founder of the Guggenheim fortune and father of Daniel, 
the present head of the family. Meyer gradually built up a manufac- 
turing business of considerable size and variety. He married a Swiss 
lass, Barbara Myers, and to them was born the "Seven Guggenheims." 
The elder boys entered the Swiss lace business and developed it won- 
derfully. This field, however, was limited — too limited for the com- 
bined energies of the maturing sons. 

Having, through kindness, aided a friend to handle a mining prop- 
erty, Meyer Guggenheim's attention was directed to that sphere, 


and, he concluded, was a field broad enough for the activities of all 
his sons. 

He summoned them all to the family home in Philadelphia, where 
all the children had been born. He related to them iEsop's fable 
about the seven sticks which could be broken easily when separated 
but which, when bound together, could not be broken. He told them 
that if they would all join and work together loyally and industri- 
ously, they could achieve what none of them could hope to do 
singlehanded. "In union there is strength" he impressed upon 

Then he portrayed to them the potentialities of the smelting and 
mining industry, offered to help them to get a modest foothold 
in it, and asked their views of the project. 

No sons ever had greater respect for a father — and few fathers have 
more richly deserved it, for Meyer Guggenheim was a man among 
men. They realized the wisdom of his proposal and immediately 
prepared to act on it. 

He impressed upon them that, while he would aid them, both finan- 
cially and with advice, to get a start, "you must kick for yourselves; 
you must build up your own enterprise." 

As already told, their first venture was a smelter in Colorado. But 
they shortly acquired other interests. There were seven of them, all 
active, ambitious, optimistic, ready to rough it and ready to go any- 
where, do anything, and suffer anything to contribute to the success 
of their new enterprise. No mountaineer, no prospector knew more 
hardships than the Guggenheim brothers voluntarily went through 
to reach a desired goal. Mountain fastnesses, untamed valleys, arid 
wastes, possessed no terrors that the daring young Guggenheims 
shrunk from facing. 

The Creator, they soon discovered, had invariably deposited min- 
eral wealth far from settled centres of civilization and had surrounded 
it with obstacles which only the pioneer and the brave elected to en- 
counter. A price had to be paid to Nature for the giving up of her 

Daniel Guggenheim, with the other brothers, uncomplainingly paid 
the prescribed price. Distance had no meaning for him or for them; 
wherever there was a chance to achieve something, he went, no matter 
what the cost in physical discomfort. He slept in tents or wagons 
amid wild surroundings as often as under a roof. The food he not 
infrequently ate would have been scorned by a Negro slave. His 
business demanded that he proceed to the firing line of advancing 
civilization, and he did not flinch from the ordeal. 

But the readiness of Daniel Guggenheim and the other brothers 
to undergo personal hardships was not the only reason they forged 


ahead. They had courage and wisdom enough to engage the best 
and most expensive engineering and mining brains procurable. Not 
only did they pay perhaps the largest salaries then known, but they 
shared results with those who made results possible. From the time 
he first became an employer Daniel Guggenheim adopted this now- 
popular but then-revolutionary system. In this way the Guggen- 
heirns could get their pick of the world's mining, engineering, and me- 
tallurgical talent. 

Nor is this all; but pains were taken to surround the workmen with 
as comfortable conditions as circumstances would permit. Perhaps 
no family has built more schools, hospitals, churches, and recreation 
halls for employees. In inaccessible regions where itinerant enter- 
tainers never venture, the Guggenheims' own welfare-workers get up 
entertainments and other diversions. 

The smelting industry was revolutionized by the Guggenheims. 
Before their advent smelting contracts invariably were made for only 
one year, smelting interests being afraid to take the risk of advancing 
wages and rising costs over a series of years. Daniel Guggenheim 
began taking five-year, ten-year, and even twenty-five year smelting 
contracts at prices which sometimes appeared suicidal at the time. 
But he was enough of a student of history, of science, of engineering, 
of chemistry, of transportation, and of economic evolution to have 
faith amounting to conviction that improved processes would be 
devised to reduce smelting and mining costs sufficiently to yield a 
profit in the future. 

"If we can't discover scientific methods to lower our costs long 
before this contract expires, we deserve to lose our business," was how 
he expressed himself to one associate who questioned the advisability 
of a certain proposed contract. 

When the Guggenheims embarked in the Utah Copper Company, 
in 1905, few people believed that the property could be made to pay, 
the ore was of such low grade. Yet Daniel Guggenheim championed 
the building of a #6,000,000 smelter and a #2,000,000 copper refining 
plant to handle material which previously had never been handled 
at a profit. It contained only twenty to thirty pounds of copper to 
pay all the expenses of mining, smelting, refining, transportation, 
selling, etc. His daring expenditure of this #8,000,000 has proved 
one of the most profitable things the Guggenheims ever did, as the 
mine is now ranked as the second largest in the world and pays hand- 
some dividends. 

Then look at what the Guggenheims are doing in Chile. The Chile 
Copper property is ensconced in a remote, barren, mountainous desert 
9,500 feet above sea level, in a region where rain has not fallen within 
the memory of man, where vegetation is unknown, where water has 


to be carried a distance of forty miles to the mine, where power has to 
be transmitted a distance of eighty-five miles from the power house 
to the mine, where roads are non-existent — where, in short, there is 
nothing to attract and everything to repel human beings. Into that 
forbidding region went the Guggenheims, decided to spend many 
millions in making it habitable, at once set the necessary complex 
machinery in motion — and now the Chile Copper Company has the 
largest developed body of copper ore in the world. 

Daniel Guggenheim, I have learned from his associates, was the 
man who, in face of universal skepticism and discouragement, insisted 
upon the investment of many millions of dollars in Alaska. The 
Bonanza mine, now belonging to the Kennecott Copper Company, 
was simply a large body of copper which had been melted by nature, 
then corroded by glaciers and left perched on a hill. Although it 
contained from 65 to 85 per cent, copper, not a pound was won from it 
between its discovery (in 1901) and 191 1 because it was beyond reach 
of transportation. Daniel Guggenheim set about the purchase of a 
half interest in the mine and agreed to build transportation within 
two years to get the copper out. 

When questioned, Mr. Guggenheim said: "If we think it is good 
business we will go anywhere in the world whether it is Alaska, Chile, 
Mexico, or South America, Africa, or the Orient. If a lot of metal 
were found in the Arctic we would go after it. We know no distance 
and no barriers in our business." Before he was 40 Mr. Guggenheim 
had crossed the Atlantic Ocean seventy times. 

"Roasted pigeons don't fly into one's mouth," Mr. Guggenheim 
went on to explain. "You have to discover a pigeon, you have to be 
able to shoot him, then you must clean him and roast him before you 
can eat him. So it is with business. 

"The Almighty has put ores far away from where human beings are. 
That is why the mining business appeals to so few people. The 
average New Yorker wants to stay in New York, surrounded with 
luxuries. He is not willing to go to foreign countries or to uncouth 
regions, putting up with all sorts of inconveniences, to find properties 
and develop them. He shrinks from spending twenty or thirty or 
forty years meeting tremendous hardships. 

"You cannot find copper, lead, silver, or gold mines in New York 
City. You must go to inaccessible and sometimes uninhabited 
places, where everything is crude and rough and uncomfortable and 
unsatisfactory. About the only enjoyment you get is the enjoyment 
of developing your business. You can get very little music and you 
have no cushioned chairs or rugs or fine pictures. You have to work 
all day like a slave and then perhaps read a little at night by the 
light of an oil lamp. 


"The opportunities are as plentiful to-day as they ever were, if a 
man is willing to make the necessary sacrifices. No man, no matter 
what his vocation, can attain genuine success without making sacri- 
fices. Nothing worth while can be got anywhere for nothing. 
Things we get for nothing we do not enjoy. The enjoyment comes 
from the hard work, the severe effort, and the sacrifice entailed in 
getting the thing — and the greater the sacrifice the greater the 
pleasure. Work and labour and study and sacrifice are all neces- 
sary to winning the kind of success that brings satisfaction with 

"When we started in the metal business my father, I well remember, 
said to us: 'You boys have got to do the trick yourselves by hard 
work and by not being afraid to make sacrifices. But let me tell you, 
no sacrifice is too great to accomplish what you go after. You will 
be fully repaid if you will use your brains and make sacrifices until 
you reach your object.' 

"When you ask me, therefore, for some advice for young men I 
would repeat that given us by my father — and, I may add, what I 
have already said: 'Roasted pigeons do not fly into one's mouth/" 

For twenty years or more the "Seven Guggenheim Brothers," 
Isaac, Daniel, Murry, Solomon, Simon, Benjamin, and William, 
worked hand in hand enthusiastically and unsparingly. Their rami- 
fications in their field had already eclipsed all rivals when, under the 
leadership of Daniel, they merged their interests and took over the 
American Smelting & Refining Company. The truth of the words 
of their father, "In union there is strength," has been abundantly 
demonstrated by the record of his sons. 

When the United States Government first wanted to obtain a 
large quantity of copper for war purposes Daniel Guggenheim took a 
lead in seeing that it was provided promptly and at a figure only half 
that prevailing in the open market. 

Although Daniel Guggenheim is still head of the American Smelting 
& Refining Co. and the American Smelters Securities Co., he does not 
work quite so hard as of yore, because he has other interests which 
now appeal to him more than money-making. Also, many of his 
mining burdens are now being capably carried by his son, Harry F. 
Guggenheim, who, after distinguishing himself both as a scholar and 
an athlete at Cambridge University, England, carried out the tradi- 
tions of his family for industry and sacrifice by spending a number of 
years "at the bottom of the ladder" in mines and metallurgical plants 
in Mexico, before taking his place at the council table of the great 
mining firm. 

Although an ardent believer in hard work, Mr. Guggenheim is a 
strong advocate of vacations. "I believe," he told me, "that a man 


who works twelve months in the year does not work more than six 
months. It is the man who works ten to eleven months and does 
something else for one to two months who works twelve months. I 
insist upon every man and boy in our employ taking an annual vaca- 

"Another rule we have is that boys must be treated with just as 
much consideration as any one else in the whole organization. If a 
boy comes with a message from others, or on any other duty, he must 
not be kept waiting, for his time is just as valuable to him as mine is 
to me." 

Next to the Rockefellers, the Guggenheim family is probably the 
wealthiest in the country. Both Mr. and Mrs. Guggenheim are 
noted philanthropists. In dispensing their benefactions they make 
no difference in the matters of race, creed, or religion. In their early 
days Mrs. Guggenheim did not hesitate to share her husband's hard- 
ships on the firing line. 

Having sowed wisely in the morning and forenoon of his life, he is 
now, in the afternoon, reaping a full harvest. 



A MERICA can claim the man who more than any other human 
/-% being has coaxed Mother Earth to give up her hidden precious 
-*- -*- metals. No other figure in history ever added so much to 
mankind's supplies of gold and silver. Through his efforts mines in 
the United States, Africa, Mexico, South America, Central America, 
and Russia have added hundreds of millions of dollars to the world's 

Latterly his activities in discovering riches in the bowels of the 
earth have been supplemented by operations on a colossal scale to 
irrigate and fructify the earth's surface for the sustenance of mankind. 
He has been a pioneer in the building of electric tramways in South 
Africa and Mexico, and hydro-electric power plants in different parts 
of the world. 

These achievements have entailed adventures, dangers, and hard- 
ships such as have befallen few men. Besieged and shot at by semi- 
savages, perilous journeys among cannibals, stranded and starved 
for three days in a fastness far from civilization, imprisoned and sen- 
tenced to death, with the gallows oiled and manned ready to do its 
work — these are some of the experiences the shuttle has woven into 
the life of John Hays Hammond, recognized as the world's greatest 
mining engineer. 

"How did it feel to be sentenced to death?" I asked Mr. Hammond. 
[I had lived in South Africa and was familiar with the circumstances 
of the memorable Jameson Raid which led up to his arrest and trial 
by Paul Kruger, then president of the Transvaal Republic] 

"I was angry, not afraid," Mr. Hammond replied with some fire, 
for we had been recalling those historical days. "As you know, we 
had arranged to plead guilty under one code of laws which punished 
treason by imprisonment, but were tricked and trapped by the Boer 
prosecutor into being sentenced under another code carrying the 
death penalty. I felt mad, indignant, outraged. 

"I have had experiences more exciting and dangerous than those 
I went through in South Africa, only they were not so spectacular," 
Mr. Hammond added, when I questioned him. Almost from the 
time he could toddle, John Hays Hammond wanted to get at the 
inside of things, to explore, to make discoveries. His father, a gradu- 
ate of West Point and an ex-officer of artillery in the Mexican War, 

. 181 


encouraged this inquisitive spirit, while his mother, a sister of John 
Coffee Hays, the famous Texas ranger and later the first sheriff of 
San Francisco, sympathized with his love for outdoor activities. He 
early learned to ride, shoot, swim, penetrate forests, camp out, hunt, 
and the like. From the public schools in San Francisco, where he 
was born on March 31, 1855, he went to grammar school in New 
Haven to prepare for the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University. 
He was bent upon being an engineer, a mining engineer for preference, 
since he could then burrow into the ground and find out hidden things, 
including perhaps gold, of which he had seen a great deal, having 
lived in the mining districts of California during summer vacations. 
His father was old-fashioned and erudite enough to prescribe a full 
classical course in addition to the regular scientific curriculum, for he 
wanted the boy to understand Greek and Latin as well as ore and 
chemicals. Graduation from Yale, in 1876, with a Ph.B. degree, was 
followed by a post-graduate course at the Royal School of Mines 
at Freiberg, Saxony, until 1879. 

The young man wanted to see something of the lands that lay 
beyond the curve of the Atlantic. The Hammond boys — John Hays 
was the oldest of four — had early earned a reputation as travellers 
and explorers in California. Indeed, they used to hold competitions 
regarding the number of counties each would visit. 

Once, while under the temporary guardianship of an aunt, John 
Hays, then fifteen, and a younger brother started to explore the tracks 
of the Yosemite Valley and became so fascinated with their exploit 
that they went on and on, staying a night or two at a mine, another 
at some prospector's shanty, another sleeping out in the open, riding 
sometimes fifty miles a day until they turned up nearly 500 miles 
away, in Nevada, after the countryside had been searching for them 
for two or three weeks! 

"That trip," said Mr. Hammond reminiscently, "taught us self- 
reliance, for we had to learn how to take care of our horses, how to 
handle ourselves, how to meet all sorts of people, and how to get 
accustomed to having the starry heavens as our bed-chamber ceil- 

An attractive railroad position was refused by young Hammond 
on his return from Freiberg. Senator Hearst, father of William Ran- 
dolph Hearst, was then a foremost mine owner in the West, and Ham- 
mond tackled him for a job. The Senator was a hard-headed, practi- 
cal man, and had had reason for being little enamoured of collar-and- 
cuff, theoretical mining engineers. 

"The only objection I have to you is that you have been in Freiberg 
and have had your head filled with a lot of fool theories. I don't 
want any kid-glove engineers," the brusque Senator told him. 


"If you promise not to tell my father, I will tell you something," 
Hammond countered. 

The Senator promised. 

"I didn't learn a single thing in Germany!" 

"Come around and start work to-morrow," clinched the Senator. 

Young Hammond started next morning at seven o'clock and kept 
on the job daily for at least twelve hours. Senator Hearst was then 
negotiating for a number of properties and Hammond conducted ore 
tests on the results of which his employer invested millions of dollars. 

A year later a wider door opened; Hammond joined the United 
States Geological Service as an examiner of gold mines. He kept his 
eyes open, noted the different formations at different mines, studied 
geology enthusiastically, and gradually cultivated a nose for mines. 
In the following year, 1881, he took practical training as a miner, as 
a foreman, and as a handy man in the mills. He contrived, also, to 
pay return visits to mines he had previously examined, and in this 
way was able to note the unfolding of their development. His knowl- 
edge enabled him to diagnose, analyze, and appraise ore bodies beyond 
the miner's pick. The whole thing fascinated him. It was not 
merely a thrilling way to earn a living and spend a life, but it added 
to the world's wealth, it brought new resources into existence, and it 
afforded profitable employment to thousands of workers. He en- 
joyed — and still enjoys — visiting a mine more than visiting the opera 
house or theatre. 

Hammond's first professional trip to alien soil proved perilous. 
•He was commissioned in 1882 to penetrate into Mexico some 250 
miles from Guaymas. On landing on the Mexican west coast from 
a sailing boat which had been chartered to carry mining machinery, 
Hammond found that the Apache Indians were on the war path 
and that the long journey to the interior by stage would have to be 
done under cover of darkness. The first night out the drunken 
driver upset the coach; one man sitting opposite Hammond was killed 
and another so hurt that he died next morning. 

Finally reaching the mines, Hammond found that the natives were 
systematically stealing the best ores. So he had himself appointed a 
special officer with power to arrest and soon terrorized the thieves, who 
did not relish either imprisonment or the alternative decree, enlist- 
ment in the army. 

Conditions improved sufficiently to warrant Mrs. Hammond's 
joining her husband. The second day after she arrived at Guaymas, 
with a young baby, a revolution broke out. Hammond promptly 
commandeered a small house, barricaded it, and prepared to defend 
the fort, which was besieged by brigands; but he had learned in 
California to use a gun with the best of them, and the besiegers, dis- 


cernlng this, departed after a few days. During the long journey 
to the interior the party came upon a village which the Indians had 
cleaned out completely, the only living things in sight being a few 
chickens in place of the 200 population which Hammond had found 
on his journey coastwise. How near the Indians might be or how 
soon they might appear on the scene, no one could guess. If the 
Indians found the little American party, it meant its annihilation. 

Fifty miles of dangerous territory had to be covered. Armed to 
the teeth, Hammond rode a mile or two ahead, signalling to the 
team. Mrs. Hammond had a pistol with which to commit suicide 
rather than submit to capture. However, the destination, Alamos, 
southern Sonora, was reached safely/ 

Mrs, Hammond stayed until the poor food began to undermine the 
health of the child. Mr. Hammond remained until he had the mine 
on a profitable basis and everything working smoothly. Before he 
was ready to depart, revolutionists seized the mint at Alamos, the 
only one on the western coast, and began to rob and cheat the 
company shamefully, refusing to pay the full amount for the bullion 
deposited. Hammond conceived the plan of accumulating the silver 
and then slipping away with it, to deliver it to the American Consul 
at Guaymas. 

He had trained ten Yaqui Indians to shoot, and by their loyal assis- 
tance had been able to resist attacks by ten times as many Mexicans 
at critical times. Loading picked mules with 150 pounds of silver 
each, and taking the trusted Yaqui Indians into his confidence, 
Hammond bolted one night in a terrible thunder-storm, when no 
Mexicans were about. A relay of mules was in readiness seventy 
miles away, and, by travelling all that night and next day, Hammond 
got a good start of his pursuers — who, of course, took up the chase as 
soon as they found what had happened. When about 100 miles 
from Alamos, Hammond learned that the Yaqui Indians of the neigh- 
bourhood were on the war path against the Mexicans and that the 
Apache Indians were up in arms against the Americans. There were 
Apaches to the right, Yaqui Indians to the left, and Mexicans in the 
rear, all on the rampage, thirsting for the blood and the plunder of 
the North American intruder, the only white man of the company. 
The famous "Light Brigade' ' was in little worse plight than the 
hunted Hammond party. The ten faithful Yaquis could easily have 
betrayed their master and received big rewards for delivering so 
much booty. But they stood by him, guided him through the 
enemy-ridden territory, and landed him safely at Guaymas. 

Incidentally, after the Diaz revolution, and when Madero was in 
power, Hammond offered to go, singlehanded, into the fastnesses of 
the Yaquis, bring them down to property controlled by Hammond 


and his associates and pay them sufficient wages to enable them to 
build homes and raise families if the Mexican Government would 
grant them amnesty, Hammond pledging his company to make good 
any damage thereafter done by the Yaquis. Madero was murdered, 
however, before he had opportunity to carry through the arrange- 
ment. Had Hammond's plan been carried out, the subsequent up- 
rising of the Yaquis would doubtless have been avoided and the 
damage done averted. 

"The Yaquis were the most honourable and honest tribe I ever met, 
far more so than white people, when treated fairly," Mr. Hammond 

Even more exciting were some of Mr. Hammond's experiences in 
the little-known region of the Andes. Accompanied by only two 
natives, he travelled over the third range of the Andes, between the 
headwaters of the Orinoco and the Amazon. Gold was being brought 
down by natives from that region and Hammond went to investigate. 
His guides' plans miscarried, and the three found themselves stranded 
in the jungle. For three days they were without food. After that 
the natives unearthed some beans, which looked like coffee, and this 
sustained life until relief came. 

The final stage of the journey had to be made without horses or 
transportation of any kind. There were no trails. The trio fol- 
lowed the creeks, wading through one after another the whole day. 

In this remote spot Hammond discovered a little mining community 
where the mining was done by the Negro women. The woman who 
was the boss and who brought gold for the visitor to test disappeared 
for two days. When she returned, the third day, her husband disap- 
peared. Much cross-questioning revealed that the woman had had 
a child and that the primitive custom of couvade was still being prac- 
tised there; that is, the father took the place of the mother in bed, was 
regaled with delicacies, received visits and congratulations from all 
the neighbours, and was treated in every way as mothers are in more 
civilized communities! 

Cannibals also were encountered by Mr. Hammond during this so- 
journ in South America, but they made no attempt to molest him. 

In his own country, too, the mining engineer and manager has had 
his full share of the rough-and-tumble life of pioneer mining. Serious 
labour troubles broke out in the Bunker Hill and Sullivan mine in 
the Coeur d'Alene district of Idaho. Strikers were led by such fire- 
brands as Haywood and Moyer. Hammond was determined to keep 
the mine going. Collecting a trainload of men, he mounted the 
engine and rushed through the danger zone at the peril of running on 
to dynamited bridges, being shot by incensed strikers, etc. In riots 
which followed shortly thereafter quite a number were killed. 


It was during those bloody days that Hammond, a marked man, on 
learning that the rioters were accusing him of being afraid to venture 
out, coolly announced one evening that he would walk down the street 
next noon. Armed with two revolvers, he started off entirely unac- 
companied. Great excitement stirred. Rioters followed him, and 
one or two got directly in his path, but a significant little movement of 
the hand proved an effective passport. Reaching the end of the 
street he crossed to the other side and walked the whole way back. 
After that the miners had a healthy respect for the young Californian. 

By the early nineties Hammond had won a reputation as a spotter 
of paying propositions. Before his day mining "experts" were mostly 
of the home-made, pick-and-shovel, rule-of-thumb variety, knowing 
little or nothing of geology or metallurgy or any other scientific aids. 
Numbers of the first university-trained mining engineers brought the 
new profession into more or less disrepute by their dilettante ways, 
their aversion to incurring hardships entailed in penetrating remote 
spots and living the crude life of on-the-ground pioneers. Hammond, 
on the other hand, had proved his ability to go anywhere, civilized or 
uncivilized, on an hour's warning. 

The greatest goldfields in the world were then, as now, in the Trans- 
vaal. A famous South African magnate, Barney Barnato, in 1893, 
secured the services of the brilliant American engineer. Hammond 
lost no time in investigating the geological formations of the gold reef 
at Johannesburg. His study convinced him that, though only out- 
crop properties were then being worked, vast quantities of rich ore 
would be found at deep levels. When Barnato would not venture 
upon so dubious and costly a venture, Hammond, convinced of the 
soundness and the value of his plan, quit. 

Within a few hours of this news becoming known, the American re- 
ceived a telegram from Cecil Rhodes, the greatest figure in British 
Colonial history and one of the most notable men of the nineteenth 
century. When Hammond arrived at Groot Schuur, the quaint resi- 
dence of Rhodes, near Cape Town, the Empire Builder opened their 
business interview thus: 

"I don't suppose you came to Africa for your health?" 

"No, the climate of California is better," Hammond replied smil- 

"Name your salary. Don't be modest," Rhodes commanded. 

Hammond obeyed. A salary of $100,000 a year was a secondary 
item in his terms; he stipulated for a share of profits. Also, that 
Rhodes and not any board of directors should be his sole boss. 

Rhodes had such faith in Hammond's ability that when the latter 
urged that the Colossus sell many million dollars' worth of shares in 
outcrop mines and stake his fortune on the development of deep levels, 


then purchasable for a song, the scheme was immediately taken up. 
Hammond became the father of the deep-level mining on the Rand, 
which is adding to the world's stock of gold many million dollars a 
year in the Transvaal alone, to say nothing of what the example then 
set has meant for mining throughout the world. 

Another thing that appealed to the imagination of the founder of 
Rhodesia was the tradition that King Solomon's mines, of Biblical 
fame, were located in Mashonaland, now Rhodesia, and he proposed 
an exploration. He and Doctor Jameson accompanied Hammond and 
his party hundreds of miles through fever-saturated country. The 
last lap was undertaken by the engineer and a few sturdy natives. 
They found the 3,000-year-old El Dorado. Hammond decided it 
could be re-opened profitably, and the mines are now producing 
$20,000,000 a year. 

"Rhodes," said Mr. Hammond, "was by far the greatest man I 
have ever met. Fie had unlimited vision, extraordinary perception, 
unbounded courage. He always insisted on looking at every business 
transaction from the other side's point of view and scorned to take 
advantage of anyone. Had Britain heeded his early advice there 
would have been no Boer War. He cared nothing for money except 
as an instrument to achieve great, worthy ends. Had money been his 
aim, he could have left $200,000,000 or $300,000,000 instead of 

Into the details of the abortive Jameson Raid which brought the 
death sentence to Hammond and three others, I cannot here enter; 
but from first-hand knowledge gathered on the spot I can state briefly 
the part played by the American leader of the Reform Committee. 
The Uitlanders, as the non-Boer residents of the Transvaal were 
called, were paying nine-tenths of the Republic's taxes, yet were 
denied not only representation but the most elementary civic liberties. 
Kruger kept promising but never granting reforms. Finally, when 
he realized that an uprising was planned, he offered to grant all the 
Reformers' demands if they would leave the Jews and the Catholics 
outside the pale. This treachery Hammond and his colleagues would 
not countenance. The revolution was not a movement to annex the 
Boer Republic to the British Empire. When somebody suggested 
hoisting a British flag over the meeting place of the Reform Committee 
the Boer flag was at once raised and Hammond proclaimed that he 
would shoot any man who dared lower the national emblem. 

Doctor Jameson, then Commissioner of Rhodesia and a man of 
overwhelming ambition, had raised troops which were not to cross the 
Transvaal border until summoned by the Johannesburg Reformers to 
aid them in overcoming any Boer resistance that might be offered. 
Jameson, however, invaded the Transvaal Republic before the Re- 


formers were ready to rise and he was surrounded and compelled to 
surrender. The British High Commissioner at Cape Town induced 
the Reformers to lay down arms, promising them, after he had com- 
municated with Kruger, safety and reasonable reforms. 

No sooner had the Uitlanders given up their arms than sixty or 
seventy of the Reformers were arrested. This created the utmost in- 
dignation but, virtually deserted by the British Government, the 
Uitlanders could do nothing. The trial of the Reformers is a matter 
of history. 

What may not be generally known is that John Hays Hammond, 
while awaiting sentence, was allowed to journey to Cape Town in what 
appeared to be a forlorn attempt to prevent his death from illness. 
While at the British port he had abundant opportunity to flee the 
country, but he scorned to decamp. He elected rather to undertake 
a three days' return railway journey, lying helpless on his back, and 
to run the gauntlet of hostile Boers, who were planning to waylay the 
train avowedly with the intention of killing him. His bravery, how- 
ever, captivated the Boers. The courage and devotion, also, of Mrs. 
Hammond in sticking by her husband's side in Johannesburg and 
Pretoria and through the upheaval, won the admiration of "Oom 
Paul/' Kruger likewise believed in the sincerity of Hammond's 
motives; he realized that what this American wanted was to set up a 
republic where all would have equal rights, a republic after the 
pattern of the United States. 

As a matter of fact, after Hammond, along with his three associates, 
had been released by paying a ransom of $125,000 each, Kruger used 
to tell the Uitlanders when they had grievances that he wanted to deal 
with "this Republican Hammond." Hammond subsequently, at 
Kruger's request, became a mediator in the negotiations which pre- 
ceded the Boer War in 1900. 

After the war, John Hays Hammond, at a notable banquet in 
London, pleaded with the highest British authorities for magnanimous 
treatment of the Boers. He urged a policy of conciliation which in 
time would make possible the confederation of South Africa. He 
pointed out that, owing to their numerical strength, the Dutch would 
inevitably gain the upper hand at the polls and it would be the 
part of statesmanship to grant voluntarily and wholeheartedly that 
which would have to be granted nolens volens sooner or later. "He 
gives twice who gives quickly," was the pith of Mr. Hammond's 

How abundantly successful this policy has proved history, par- 
ticularly the part played by the Boers during the present war, has 

The most gripping account of this chapter of John Hays Flam- 


mond's career is contained in a little volume, "A Woman's Part in a 
Revolution,'' written by Mrs. Hammond. 

After the outbreak of the Boer War Mr. Hammond returned to the 
United States, in 1900. He made investigations for English interests 
and attracted millions of capital here. At his say-so a town would 
spring up on some spot almost overnight. Of course, Hammond's 
judgment was not then or at any earlier period infallible. He some- 
times made mistakes, but his successes were so notable that the 
Guggenheims, in 1903, engaged him at reputedly the highest remuner- 
ation paid any employee in the world. 

Among the projects with which he has been identified are the Gug- 
genheim Exploration Company, the Utah Copper Company, Nevada 
Consolidated, Tonopah Mining Company, lead mines in Missouri, 
the Esperanza Gold Mine and various silver mines in Mexico and, in 
short, mining enterprises in many parts of the world. 

Twice the Russian Government engaged him to investigate that 
empire's mineral and industrial resources and its irrigation possi- 

Since he left the Guggenheims, Mr. Hammond has become deeply 
interested in irrigation. With associates, he is carrying out around 
the mouth of the Yaqui River, in Sonora, Mexico, the development of 
some 1,000 square miles of land, the largest irrigation project on the 
American continent. Already 30,000 acres are under cultivation. 
Another ambitious irrigation project which is bringing thousands of 
acres of orchards into existence is being carried out by the Mt. Whit- 
ney Power Company, California, the water in this case having to be 
pumped, by means of a system invented by Hammond. Among his 
various Mexican activities was the formation of the important Guana- 
juato Power Company. 

Much of Mr. Hammond's time is now devoted to the public interest. 
He is particularly active in education, and delivers many lectures be- 
fore students and other bodies. For some time he acted as Professor 
of Mining Engineering at Yale, which university he presented with a 
mining and metallurgical laboratory. Several honorary degrees have 
been conferred upon him. He is chairman of the Economics De- 
partment of the National Civic Federation, and has laboured assidu- 
ously to bring labour and capital to a better mutual understanding. 
He takes active participation in and is a generous supporter of hos- 
pital work. He is a notable advocate of international cooperation for 
the insuring of peace. 

His political work won for him the presidency of the National 
League of Republican Clubs, and President Taft offered him the post 
of Minister to China, regarded by Taft as one of the most important 
of all diplomatic posts. As president of the Commission Extraor- 


dinary of the Panama Exposition, Mr. Hammond visited most of 
the capitals of Europe, interviewed rulers and foreign ministers, and 
greatly helped to bring about the success of the Exposition. Mr. 
Hammond was selected as representative of the United States at the 
coronation of King George V. 

Both in business and in politics Mr. Hammond advocates publicity. 
One of his contentions is that corporations protected by tariff should 
be compelled to publish the fullest information concerning their 

Not many Americans have so wide an acquaintanceship among all 
classes and in all countries — his gallery of autographed photographs 
of men he has personally known is probably the largest in the United 
States; it runs the whole gamut from those of the principal European 
rulers to labour heads, one of whom, Samuel Gompers, appends to his 
picture these words: "To John Hays Hammond, the most construc- 
tive, practical, radically democratic millionaire I have ever met." 

The time may soon come- when America will have need of the ser- 
vices of business-statesmen of Hammond's calibre and experience. 
His knowledge — practical, technical, gathered at first hand — of for- 
eign countries' resources, industries, and commerce, fit him to become 
an important and valuable figure in the momentous deliberations 
which must follow the restoration of peace. What America will then 
need is not parochial, untravelled politicians, but hard-headed, sophis- 
ticated business giants, familiar with the whole world and its economic 

Mr. Hammond, who declares that "character is the real foundation 
of all worth-while success," can truthfully say, in the words of his 
intimate friend and correspondent, Kipling: 

"Whate'er may come, thank God I have lived and toiled with 

Postscriptally, Mr. Hammond attributes no small share of his 
success to his intrepid wife who has never hesitated to share his 
hardships and perils. 

Any "Men Who Are Making America" series of articles written 
ten years from now promises to include another John Hays Ham- 
mond. The son's achievements in directing torpedoes at sea by wire- 
less from land has already made him famous, and just what the effect 
of young Hammond's inventions may have in America's waging of 
war cannot be foretold. And this, it is declared, is not by any means 
the only important one of his many inventions. Few famous men 
are blessed with famous sons. 



WHEN a youth unable to speak the English language can 
come to the United States and attain marked success in half- 
a-dozen different fields, surely few native Americans ought 
to complain of lack of opportunities. 

The career of August Heckscher illustrates better than any other in 
this series the abundance of channels open in this country for the exer- 
cise of intelligent and profitable industry. After thirty years of 
rigorous toil, first in coal mining and then in the zinc field, during 
which, after an abnormal amount of opposition, Mr. Heckscher earned 
a comfortable fortune, he became interested in real estate develop- 
ment and became a very important factor in this line of enterprise. 
Not satisfied with this achievement, he branched out — very success- 
fully — into copper mining, steel manufacturing, iron ore properties, 
and such diverse activities as grape-fruit culture in Cuba, the manufac- 
ture of fire engines for most of the country's cities and towns, a paper 
company, large foundries, silver mining, and financial institutions. 

I asked Mr. Heckscher to what he attributed his diversified success, 
to what particular qualities he attached special importance, and 
what, in his opinion, was the most common weakness in the make-up 
or training of American-born youths who failed to attain their ambi- 

As Mr. Heckscher has been a citizen and a voter for a longer period 
than most native Americans — forty-three years — and has rounded 
out a half century's residence here, he may be regarded as qualified 
to discuss the subject. 

"Thoroughness and perseverance are cardinal requisites," he re- 
plied. "The trouble with most .Americans who fail to succeed is not 
that they are not brilliant enough, but because they have not laid 
the proper foundation. They are not thorough enough. They do 
not master their subject from the ground up . They dislike the tedious- 
ness, the study, and the labour involved in laying foundations. They 
do not want to begin at the bottom — they seem to forget that men 
like Lincoln and Washington did not start at the top and that Na- 
poleon began as an obscure artillery officer. 

"You must learn to obey before you are fit to command. 

"Opportunities are boundless in this country. You mentioned 
that I have made some success in a number of different undertakings. 



If I have, it is because I set myself to learning each one of them pains- 
takingly and applied myself to it perseveringly until I knew it well. 

"How did I do it? Well, I am an omnivorous reader and my mem- 
ory is a little like what Mr. Roosevelt once said to me when I asked 
him how he could remember so many things. 'I can't forget/ Mr. 
Roosevelt replied. I am not impatient; I have been blessed with a 
faculty for perseverance no matter what happens. I do not give in." 

Some of the most powerful financial interests in the country learned 
from experience that August Heckscher possesses bulldog tenacity. 
They fought him and he fought them in the courts for ten solid years 
over title to the great New Jersey Zinc Mines which Mr. Heckscher 
had acquired. The records of this case, famous in jurisprudence, 
form a small library. From court to court the case was carried. 
Even when the Court of Appeals of New Jersey ruled against Mr. 
Heckscher he did not give up. Instead he redoubled his efforts. He 
even went and ransacked Europe for specimens of ore to substantiate 
his contentions. 

He kept ten lawyers busy. Finally he presented such an array 
of facts, exhibits, and testimony that the Court of Appeals actually 
reversed itself, admitting that its previous decision had been based 
on insufficient data. During the thick of this battle Mr. Heckscher 
lost every penny of his fortune through the failure of the financial 
institution which did his business. One night he went to bed a 
moderately rich man, and woke up next day to find himself worth less 
than nothing. A friend had sufficient faith in him to lend him 
$50,000 to meet the more pressing of his debts, and Mr. Heckscher 
had to start all over again. That was in 1890, the year of the Baring 
Brothers memorable failure, which shook not only London but every 
other great financial centre. 

His tenacity, his unwavering courage, his aptitude for arduous 
exertion stood him in good stead. Although he had lost his money, 
he did not lose heart. The combined opposition of influential finan- 
cial, railroad, and industrial interests in New York and in New Jersey 
could not defeat or discourage him. Had he been a man of only 
moderate self-confidence, a man of mediocre ability, a man of only 
half-hearted determination, he never would have withstood the pres- 
sure for ten long years. 

Perhaps Mr. Heckscher inherited his fighting qualities. His father 
fought in the battle of Leipzig against Napoleon the First as long ago 
as 1 8 13, when a boy of only sixteen. In later life his father became 
Prime Minister of Germany. Heckscher, who was born in Hamburg 
on August 26, 1848, received a typically thorough education in Ger- 
many and Switzerland. 

When nineteen, he decided to strike out for the United States. 


He was given $500 in gold, which he strapped about his waist, and 
thus early manifested his faith in himself by giving his mother an 
assurance that under no circumstances would he call upon her for the 
gift of another penny. Nor did he. He landed in New York in 
1867, and, through relatives, obtained employment in the anthracite 
coal-mining regions of Pennsylvania. All that he knew about coal 
was that it was black, but the manager falling ill, young Heckscher 
was placed in charge of the whole property. 

"Running a coal mine in the 7o's was not the pleasantest of occu- 
pations, for the Mollie Maguire gangs were then on the warpath," 
Mr. Heckscher recalled. "The miners' unions came and tried to 
lay down the law as to what the operators must do and must not do. 
The riots and the bloodshed in the coal districts during that reign of 
terror formed a dark chapter in American industry. However, my 
experiences, I suppose, tended to develop self-reliance. It was a 
rough but a salutary school for a young man in my position. I 
managed to fight my way through somehow or other." 

A town having been built on top of the mine, rendering its continued 
development dangerous, the whole property was sold in 188 1. By 
this time the anthracite coal trade was being corralled by the railroad 
companies, who, because of their control of transportation, were in a 
position to make it extremely difficult for private coal companies to 
stay in business. The Philadelphia & Reading Coal and Iron Com- 
pany bought out the mine in which Heckscher was interested. 

On looking around for a new opportunity, Mr. Heckscher, along 
with an older cousin, bought control of a zinc plant at Bethlehem, Pa., 
now forming part of the Bethlehem Steel Works. Although the con- 
cern had sunk into bankruptcy and was purchased by the Heckschers 
at practically sheriff's sale, they developed it aggressively and so 
successfully that, within a few years, it paid dividends regularly of 
2 per cent, monthly. Mr. Heckscher became convinced that the 
zinc industry had vast possibilities and he resolved to extend his 

Accordingly, he took the lead in forming the New Jersey Zinc Com- 
pany. Certain intrenched capitalistic interests did not relish the 
advent of this outsider, who was not of their number, and an attack 
upon the Heckscher interests was instituted. As already told, Heck- 
scher lost all his money in 1890 and also at one stage had his title to 
the zinc property declared invalid, yet fought on until he attained 
ultimate victory at the end of ten trying years. He continued as 
manager of the zinc company until 1905, when he resigned. 

Although he had now sufficient wealth to satisfy all his needs for 
the remainder of his life, he found he could not remain simply an 
inactive investor. He had been appointed by the courts to the re- 


ceivership of several railroads, forming what is now the Kansas City 
Southern. He had also been receiver of a large steel plant. At each 
step he made it his business to master the industry or business which 
he took up, so that, in course of time, he acquired exhaustive knowl- 
edge of various lines of activity. 

Then he was tempted to enter a field with which he had not first 
made himself thoroughly familiar. He purchased the Whitney 
property at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, New York, as an invest- 
ment, but soon discovered that it could not be made to pay. Having 
once taken up real estate, however, Heckscher, unaccustomed to doing 
things by halves, began to analyze conditions throughout the city 
with a view to more extensive operations. The Whitney property 
was then too far up-town to be turned to profitable account; in other 
words, Mr. Heckscher found he had bought prematurely — he was 
too early. He therefore decided to build merely a taxpaying structure 
on that site and to devote his attention to the 42nd Street district as 
being more immediately in the line of enhancement in value. 

Having now a reasonably good knowledge of real estate, his activi- 
ties became distinctly profitable. Among the buildings Mr. Heck- 
scher now owns or controls are the twenty-five-story office building 
at 50 East 42nd Street, the Manhattan Hotel, the Tiffany Studios 
property, the former Havemeyer residence at 38th Street and Madison 
Avenue, the whole block fronting on Fifth Avenue, at 104th Street, 
another large property at 45th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, and a 
business building at 622 Fifth Avenue, formerly used by Mr. Heck- 
scher as his residence. 

And the probabilities are that this list will be steadily lengthened, 
for he is as active to-day as he was thirty years ago. 

The variety and extent of his activities may be gathered from the 
following partial list of his executive positions and directorships: 

Owner of the Vermont Copper Company, director of the New 
Jersey Zinc Company, vice-president and director of the Eastern 
Steel Company, member of the executive committee of the Central 
Foundry Company, chairman of the Union Bag & Paper Company, 
director of the Central Iron & Coal Company, president and director 
of the Benson Mines Company (iron ore), director of the Canada 
Copper Company, director of the Nipissing Mines, chairman of the 
American-La France Fire Engine Company, director of the Ray 
Hercules Copper Company, member of the executive committee of 
the Empire Trust Company, director of the Lawyers' Title & Trust 
Company, and director of the Cuba Grape Fruit Company. 

Yet, with all his multifarious business affairs, Mr. Heckscher has 
taken time to live. To his friends he is "Commodore," having been 
commodore of the Seawanhaka-Corinthian Yacht Club — yachting is 


his favourite recreation. His intense love of good pictures is revealed 
by the great number of meritorious paintings which adorn his office 
walls and also his home at Huntington, L. I. He has also taken time 
to discharge a full share of civic duties. A believer in good roads, 
he served as commissioner of highways at Huntington for two years, 
having been elected by a decisive majority, notwithstanding opposi- 
tion by some of the working people on the score that he was a capitalist 
and had no business to take the $3 a day salary away from some work- 
man in need of it. This little objection Mr. Heckscher handsomely 
overcame, not only by adding the #3 to the salary of his chief assistant, 
but by engaging at his own cost a capable engineer to carry out many 

Huntington has since received a gift of a beautiful park upon which 
Mr. Heckscher spent much labour, to say nothing of money, beautify- 
ing and equipping it for the use of the townspeople and particularly 
the children, who occupy a specially warm spot in his heart. The 
park is amply endowed to meet all upkeep charges, so that it may not 
at any time impose the slightest burden upon the taxpayers. 

"Oh, it is hardly worth mentioning, but, do you know, I had no 
end of real pleasure out of planning and laying out that little park, 
with its rustic home for the caretaker, its fountains, and other attrac- 
tions," replied Mr. Heckscher, almost apologetically when I brought 
up this subject. "It is a nice place for the kids and the birds." 

Mr. Heckscher married Miss Atkins in Pottsville, Pa. They have 
one married daughter who lives in England, while the nationally 
known polo player, G. Maurice Heckscher, now of the Meadowbrook 
Polo Team, which defeated the best team England could produce, 
is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Heckscher. 

In view of Mr. Heckscher's own record, it is not surprising that he 
should regard America as a land of unequalled opportunities for those 
who will undergo the necessary preparation to fit themselves to seize 
them. He firmly believes that responsibilities seek only shoulders 
able to bear them, and that the idle and the ignorant are apt to reap 
just what they sow. Knowledge is power and hard work is the only 
dynamo that can generate success. 

His career proves that to the man with seeing eyes, a well-trained 
mind and willing hands, Opportunity comes many times in a lifetime, 
not once, as sang the poet who put these words into the mouth of 

Master of human destinies am I! 
Fame, love, and fortune on my footsteps wait. 
Cities and fields I walk; I penetrate 
Deserts and seas remote, and passing by 
Hovel and mart and palace, soon or late 


I knock unbidden once at every gate! 

If sleeping, wake; if feasting, rise before 

I turn away. It is the hour of fate, 

And they who follow me reach every state 

Mortals desire, and conquer every foe 

Save death; but those who doubt or hesitate 

Condemned to failure, penury, and woe, 

Seek me in vain and uselessly implore, 

I answer not, and I return no more! 

Opportunity may not constantly come knocking at the door; it 
may be necessary to set forth and diligently search for her. But she 
is to be found by those who look forward and go forward equipped 
to see her and seize her. 



I HAVE always been lucky." 
That was the frank admission made by A. Barton Hepburn, 
usually described simply as a banker. His career, however, 
has been one of many-sided success. He has made his mark as an 
educator, as a lawyer, as a legislator, as a government official, as an 
author, and as a big-game hunter— of which last he is perhaps most 

The Chase National Bank eighteen years ago, when Mr. Hepburn 
took hold as president, had deposits of $27,000,000 and capital, sur- 
plus, and undivided profits of only $2,500,000. Now it has over 
$300,000,000 deposits and $22,000,000 of capital, surplus, and un- 
divided profits. Also, there is an allied Chase Securities Corporation, 
young but vigorous. 

The experience I am about to tell sounds like a page from the pen 
of an over-imaginative novelist. 

Mr. Hepburn had just taken his seat as an Assemblyman at Albany, 
thirty-seven years ago, as a Republican under a Democratic house 
and senate, a position apparently offering little scope for recognition. 
He was writing letters in the house thanking some of his friends for 
the support they had given him, when he became conscious that 
someone had sat down beside him. He turned to find a giant of a 
man occupying the adjoining chair. 

"I believe I have the honour of addressing Mr. Hepburn ?" said the 
giant with a Scottish accent. 

"Yes, I am Mr. Hepburn, but I am quite sure I never met you 
before, for I surely would remember you," was the reply. 

"Mr. Hepburn, I have called upon you for your name's sake. I 
hope in future to call for your own sake. I am John F. Smythe, 
Chairman of the State Republican Committee and Postmaster of 
Albany, and this is why I came to meet you. 

"A great many years ago I was a student in college in Scotland and 
in hazing the freshmen we went to great lengths, committing what 
undoubtedly were criminal acts. We were arrested, indicted, and 
— despite the intercession of many family friends — arraigned for 
trial, and it appeared certain that we should all be disgraced for life. 

"There was great excitement the day of the trial. The court was 
crowded with parents, relatives, friends of the students, and local 



people. When the case was called a patriarchal-looking old man of 
the neighbourhood, Sir Andrew Hepburn, begged leave to address the 
court. 'You are about to commit a very serious and a very grave 
wrong,' he began. 'You have here a number of young men of ex- 
cellent families indicted for alleged crimes, whom you propose to 
punish and disgrace for life. What they did was wrong, but what they 
did the class before them did, and the class before them, and the 
class before them, even going back to the class in which your Honour 
and I and the prosecuting attorney were members. We all did the 
same thing, and if we had been indicted we would have been placed 
behind prison bars.' 

"The aged man's appeal made such an impression that the whole 
proceedings were dropped. 

"I came to America. I made up my mind that, while there was 
nothing I could do for Sir Andrew Hepburn, if I ever had opportunity 
to do anything for anyone having the name of Hepburn, I would not 
neglect to do it. Here I am. I know all about you. If there is 
anything I can do, I shall feel privileged in being allowed to do it. 
If there is ever anything you want, call on me." 

Smythe was then perhaps the greatest political power in Albany 
and he saw to it that his young friend Hepburn was placed on im- 
portant committees, thus giving him a standing in the legislature which 
ordinarily would have taken years to attain. Governor Tilden 
sent for him, complimented him on his independence of mind, and 
asked his cooperation in carrying through reform measures which 
the Governor was championing. As there was a Democratic majority 
of only five in the Assembly, every vote counted. Hepburn was an 
ardent reformer and he pledged his enthusiastic support. 

Alas, the very next bill that the Administration submitted called 
for a commission of four members whose reform proceedings were to 
be conducted in secret. The measure was railroaded through to its 
third reading in five minutes. 

Up jumped Hepburn and made a rousing protest against the pro- 
posed star-chamber methods of the commission. He thundered 
against secret, hole-and-corner legislative doings, although not long 
before he had promised the Governor whole-hearted support. 

Next morning the New York Tribune and the New York Herald 
printed the name of Mr. Hepburn and five others with black, mourn- 
ing borders around them, charged them with being lackeys of the 
"canal ring," and gave them a terrible editorial trouncing. 

Hepburn got mad. He raised the question of privilege, had the 
articles read, and then delivered a masterpiece, quoting, from Black- 
stone down, against star-chamber proceedings. Speaker Jerry Mc- 
Guire left the chair, came along the centre aisle, and sat down beside 


Hepburn. "I like you," he cried, shaking Hepburn's hand, "You 
are right, and we can work together." Opposition to the secret pro- 
ceedings was spreading over the State. 

Tilden sent for him again. Hepburn expected a lambasting. In- 
stead, the Governor greeted him with: "I have read what you said 
in regard to this bill. You were right. We want to turn on the light. 
The bill will be amended to meet your views and I trust it will get 
your support." 

The Governor gave a dinner to William Cullen Bryant, and Re- 
publican Assemblyman Hepburn was honoured with an invitation. 
With one bound he had sprung into prominence. In later years 
Mr. Hepburn became chairman of a legislative investigation the New 
York Chamber of Commerce inspired to expose discrimination by the 
railroads against the City of New York by giving special rates to 
Philadelphia and Boston and other seaboard cities and also to in- 
dividuals. As a result of this investigation Mr. Hepburn drew up a 
bill providing for a State Railroad Commission and was able to have 
it passed in the face of the opposition of the all-powerful railroad in- 
terests. It is this Commission law which exists to-day. Four other 
important measures he brought forward and carried through. 

"How did you do it?" I asked Mr. Hepburn. 

"I found most of the members did not know how to work or to 
study up a subject and that the most formidable weapon to use was a 
volley of facts," he replied. "Facts which could not be disputed 
when fired at them always awed them. Having won a reputation for 
being right, it was easy enough to become a factor in any debate. Of 
course, I had to work very hard." 

Five years' effective work in the Assembly won him the appoint- 
ment of superintendent of the State Banking Department. 

But let us get back to the beginning of our story. The founder 
of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a successful railroad contractor in 
Ohio, and a literary-oratorical light — all three of good education — were 
among the uncles of Alonzo Barton Hepburn, but his father, a farmer 
in Colton, N. Y., objected to giving him a college education on the 
ground that it would unfit him for the work of a farmer. Three older 
brothers had gone off as privates in the Civil War — each came out 
with a commission — but Barton was too young, having been born on 
July 24, 1846. No boy had ever gone from Colton to college and one 
citizen who was not at all proud of this tradition offered to lend 
Barton $1,000 if he would take insurance and join the Masons. 
Barton did. To eke out his slender resources he taught district school 
between terms and also became clerk in a Colton store. 

This job cut his wisdom teeth. The store bought everything the 
community produced and sold everything it consumed. The town 


had a tannery which used 10,000 cars of hemlock bark a year, two 
saw mills, two grist mills, a tub factory, etc. The yeomanry were 
slick — and their wives slicker. Because he was well educated, young 
Hepburn was given the job of measuring and computing the value of 
loads of bark, wood, hay, etc. Often his measurements and his 
weights, taken at the store, did not tally with those of the mills when 
the stuff was unloaded — the loads, it was discovered, had been weighted 
with stones, iron, etc. Colton, lying at the foothills of the Adiron- 
dacks on the banks of the Raquette River, at the entrance of the 
lumber industry, was then the most flourishing place in St. Lawrence 
County, with 1,800 permanent inhabitants and many transients. 
The young clerk learned to handle and appraise the value of all sorts 
of materials raised by the farmers as well as the supplies needed for the 
lumber camps up the mountains. 

On graduating with an A. B. degree from Middlebury College, the 
town where his father was born, he became instructor of mathematics 
at St. Lawrence Academy, and, later principal of Ogdensburg Educa- 
tional Institute at a salary of #1,200 a year. This enabled him to pay 
off all his debts. He next studied law, was admitted to the bar, and 
returned to Colton to rest. 

So many people swarmed to him for legal advice that he decided to 
stay there and practise. He could pick whichever side he wanted 
in almost every suit. Business boomed. His clients included the 
King estate of Boston and others owning extensive tracts of land. 
Then the State of New York engaged him to look after overdue taxes, 
etc. Plenty of timber land could be picked up by merely paying back 

Hepburn saw his opportunity. He bought 30,000 acres at 50 
cents an acre, sold some timber off it, joined several others in building 
a saw-mill which cut 25,000,000 feet per year, put money into wing 
dams, and made the river navigable for logs. He was, however, 
"land poor." 

Governor Cleveland offered to re-appoint him State Bank super- 
intendent, but as his lumber interests were harassing him, he quit. 
In addition to his domestic expenses, he had to pay interest and taxes 
on his land, build a new mill, and meet other obligations far beyond 
the salary paid by the Banking Department. For several years he 
worked hard to clear his feet — and then sold out at a profit of #200,000. 
This when forty. 

His liking for law had not been eradicated by his political ex- 
periences, but the banking field easily overshadowed the legal arena. 
His first banking position in New York was as United States bank ex- 
aminer. His work here attracted notice, and he was called to Wash- 
ington as Comptroller of the Currency. This proved the stepping 


stone to that aim of nearly all bankers, the presidency of a New York 
bank, the Third National. When it was taken over by the National 
City Bank, Mr. Hepburn went along, as a vice-president. 

"Come over and help us or we perish," was the gist of a message he 
received from the directors of the Chase National Bank two years later. 

Having been Federal bank examiner, he knew the whole situation. 
The field was broad, with inviting opportunity. So he accepted, with 
results that constitute a remarkable chapter of successful American 

"How have I succeeded?" Mr. Hepburn repeated. "Simply by 
hard, systematic work directed by every ounce of intelligence in me. 
To my mind it is true that 'genius is 95 per cent, perspiration and 
only 5 per cent, inspiration.'" 

Then he gave this pointer for winning success: 

"Whenever I have studied any subject or dug out any information 
I have always carefully compiled the data in a form that would be 
instantly available. I have kept a memorandum of all facts I gath- 

"Thus, my book on 'The Artificial Waterways of the World' con- 
tains many figures I secured when in the legislature and when chair- 
man of the Committee on Transportation in the Chamber of Com- 
merce. My 'History of Currency' embodies much information I 
gathered as secretary and treasurer of the Sound Money League which 
opposed free silver all through the Bryan campaign, in the work of 
which I was constantly engaged. 

"By keeping a proper record of facts and figures you can turn to 
them and use them to help you whenever occasion arises." 

Mr. Hepburn has lived. He has achieved as much out of business 
as in business and has had many honours showered upon him. He 
rivals his friend Andrew Carnegie in the number of honorary degrees 
conferred upon him by colleges — LL.D's. from Middlebury, Colum- 
bia, Williams, and Vermont; D.C.L. from St. Lawrence University, 
etc. Commerce elected him to its highest office, president of the 
Chamber of Commerce. Finance, not to be outdone, made him 
Chairman of the Currency Commission of the American Bankers' 
Association on its formation a decade ago and has kept him in that 
place ever since, while he has been president of the New York Clearing 
House and the National Currency Association as well as chairman of 
two State Commissions to Revise the Banking Laws. He has held the 
presidency of the St. Andrews Society, the New England Society, 
the Bankers' Club, and other social organizations. France made 
him an Officer of the Legion of Honour. 

His philanthropies have been notable. He donated Hepburn Hall 
to his Alma Mater, Middlebury College, in 191 5. It consists of two 


elaborate buildings, a five-story dormitory to accommodate ioo 
students, and a three-story commons building. Ogdensburg in 1916 
announced a $130,000 gift from him for hospital purposes there, and 
the A. Barton Hepburn Hospital was erected for the use of St. Law- 
rence County, the scene of his early struggles and triumphs. He is 
also active in the work of the Rockefeller Foundation, of which he is a 

His books have commanded the attention of the thoughtful. They 
include "History of Coinage and Currency," "A History of Currency 
in the United States," "Artificial Waterways and Commercial De- 
velopment," "Artificial Waterways of the World," and "Story of an 
Outing." He was one of the founders of the Academy of Political 

His services as a director are in wide demand. He sits on a score 
of financial, industrial, and mercantile boards dealing with such diverse 
things as five-and-ten-cent articles (Woolworth), insurance (N. Y. 
Life), automobiles (Studebaker), manure (American Agricultural 
Chemical) and gasoline (Texas Co.). 

Mr. Hepburn is as much at home among big game as among big 
business. By way of celebrating his seventieth birthday, Mr. Hep- 
burn travelled 5,000 miles to hunt for the famous brown bears which 
are to be found — sometimes — on Kadiak Island, Alaska. After an 
exciting hunt he bagged two — no one is allowed to kill more than 
three. A few years ago he also journeyed several thousand miles to 
search for big game in British East Africa and had the sensation of 
meeting and the satisfaction of killing the best game of that country, 
including two lions in the open. 

He can wield a golf stick as expertly as he handles his gun. Fishing 
is another of his hobbies. So is swimming. 

Independence is one of Mr. Hepburn's outstanding traits. Whether 
in politics or in finance he will not bend the knee to anybody acting 
questionably. He has always insisted on doing his own thinking and 
travelling his own road. His great learning, first as a student and 
teacher, and then as a lawyer, rendered him fit to form his own con- 
clusions and he has all along reserved the right to do so. 

Intense energy is another of his characteristics. He burns much 
midnight oil in searching for knowledge — sometimes for knowledge's 
sake, more often to fit him to grapple more effectively with practical 
problems of social, political, financial, and industrial life. 

He believes in orderliness, and practises it. He hates chaos and 
avoids it — his desk is always just so. 

Mr. Hepburn has one son living, Charles Fisher, whose mother 
died in 1 88 1. In 1887 Mr. Hepburn married Emily L. Eaton, of 
Montpelier, Vt., and they have two daughters, Beulah Eaton, wife of 


Lieut. Robert R. M. Emmet, of the U. S. Navy, and Cordelia Susan. 
Because of his fondness for the country, Mr. Hepburn maintains a 
residence at Ridgefield, Conn., in addition to his city home in 57th 
Street, New York City. 

Although past the seventieth mile-post, Barton Hepburn is as 
alert in body and mind as he was a quarter of a century ago. He at- 
tributes his wonderful condition to love of Nature. "The outdoor 
life," he recently wrote, "sweetens all existence; it cultivates the pure 
and wholesome in one's life and aspirations; it lures from the man- 
made attractions that pander to sensation, to God-made attractions 
that sustain the source of being; in advancing years it enables one to 

"'Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty, 
For in my youth I never did apply 
Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood, 
Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo 
The means of weakness and debility.' " 


ONE bleak November evening a poor but ambitious young 
London clerk, who in his spare moments had contrived to 
learn shorthand, stood on the dingy underground railway 
platform at King's Cross waiting for a train to take him to the home of 
Thomas Gibson Bowles, proprietor and editor of Vanity Fair, where 
the youth eked out his two-dollars-a-week salary by earning a few 
shillings as stenographer after his regular day's work was done. 

To while away the time during the drab ride in London's " Sewer," 
the lad resolved to buy something to read, and his choice fell upon an 
American magazine, the old Scribners, now the Century Magazine. 
It chanced to contain an article on the electrical experiences and 
achievements of one Thomas A. Edison, then hardly known in 
Europe. The writer was Francis R. Upton, one of Mr. Edison's aides, 
and the story he told was fascinating. 

Not very long after this the real estate agent and auctioneer for 
whom the clerk worked decided that he could cut expenses by engag- 
ing an "articled" clerk — an apprentice who would serve for nothing. 
So the paid clerk answered a "Situations Vacant" advertisement in 
the London Times. 

The advertiser turned out to be Colonel George E. Gouraud, the 
English representative of Edison and the resident director in London 
of the Mercantile Trust Company of New York, then owned by the 
Equitable Life. Colonel Gouraud was favourably impressed by the 
youth's enterprise and experience, for in addition to his daily task 
and his shorthand writing for the famous Bowles, he had found time 
to do secretarial work for Sir George Campbell, a noted member of 

He was engaged as Colonel Gouraud's secretary — and then re- 
solved to strive to become secretary to Edison himself, the wonder- 
working hero of the magazine story. 

In his new position with Colonel Gouraud, he not only did his full 
day's work but, as a possible stepping-stone toward his goal, made 
himself useful at night to Edison's technical representative in England, 
E. H. Johnson, who was then assisting in the formation of the Edison 
Telephone Company in London. To Mr. Johnson he confided his 

The abilities, the enthusiasm, and the inordinate energy of the 



young secretary began to be noted by Americans visiting the Edison 
headquarters, and before long he received an attractive offer from the 
most prominent international banking house in America to come to 
New York. Acceptance would have diverted him from his purpose; 
so he refused the proffered position. 

One day the cable brought the message he had waited for and 
worked for. Thomas A. Edison wanted him as his private secretary. 

The youth was Samuel Insull, the early secretary, associate, con- 
fidant, financial manager and alter ego of Edison and now the creator 
and head of the largest power plant in the world producing electricity 
by steam, a plant supplying more customers and more power than 
any in New York, London, Berlin, or Paris — the Commonwealth 
Edison Company of Chicago. Mr. Insull has also won his way to 
the head of Chicago's elevated railways and the city's entire gas 
business, while, in addition, he has built up and dominates enterprises 
which supply 350 different communities with gas and electric light, 
power for industries, and current for numerous urban and interurban 

But we are getting ahead of our story. We left Mr. Insull, then 
twenty-one, jubilant over the receipt of the Edison summons. He 
had equipped himself for the job. He had already imbibed much 
knowledge concerning electricity and had been given the honour of 
acting for the first half hour as the telephone operator in the first 
experimental telephone exchange erected in Europe. He had done 
his work well — better than one of his colleagues did on an eventful 

A celebration of one of the royal societies was being held at the 
Burlington House, Piccadilly, and a telephone had been installed for 
the entertainment and edification of the guests — and also with a view 
to bringing it to public notice. Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone came along 
and showed much curiosity. Mrs. Gladstone asked Mr. Insull, who 
was in charge of that end of the wire, to let her use the instrument. 
The wife of the famous statesman asked the Edison employee at the 
other end whether he knew if a man or a woman was speaking. In 
loud tones came back the reply: "A man!" 

Full of rosy hopes, Mr. Edison's new private secretary set foot on 
American soil on February 28, 1881. 

Although it was between five and six in the evening, he was taken, 
by Mr. Johnson, direct to Mr. Edison's office at 65 Fifth Avenue. 

At first glance both employer and secretary felt disappointed. Edi- 
son had not expected so boyish-looking a person; the hero's appear- 
ance did not tally with the worshipper's imagination. 

"With my strict ideas as to the class of clothes to be worn by a 
prominent man," Mr. Insull declares, "there was nothing in Edison's 


dress to impress me. He wore a rather seedy black diagonal Prince 
Albert coat and waist-coat, with trousers of a dark material, and a 
white silk handkerchief around his neck, tied in a careless knot falling 
over the stiff bosom of a white shirt somewhat the worse for wear. 
He had a large 'wideawake' hat of the sombrero pattern, then gener- 
ally used in this country. His hair was worn quite long, and hung 
carelessly over his fine forehead. What struck me above everything 
else were the wonderful intelligence and magnetism of his expression, 
and the extreme brightness of his eyes. He was far more modest 
than in my youthful picture of him. I had expected to find a man 
of distinction. His appearance, as a whole, was not what you would 
call 'slovenly'; it is best expressed by the word 'careless.'" 

The new secretary very quickly learned of Edison's contempt for 
the clock. He was asked to report for duty after dinner — and his 
first day's work finished between four and five o'clock in the morning! 

Mr. Insull immediately fell a victim to the wizard's magnetic spell. 
He forgot that Edison lacked a collar, that his shirt was frayed, that 
his hair was frowzy, and that his trousers were not creased to a razor- 
edge. One night's association was sufficient to create unbounded 
admiration for what was in his hero's head. 

"Next evening," Mr. Insull recalls, "I was taken out to Menlo 
Park by Mr. Edison and I well remember how surprised I was to see 
the fields around his laboratory, the houses of himself and his assis- 
tants all illuminated by this wonderful new light, using a carbon- 
filament lamp — a decided improvement on the paper-filament one 
which I had seen in London. I recall that I was quite impatient on 
that occasion to run down to the railroad station from the laboratory, 
about half a mile away, to send a cable to my friends in London, telling 
them that I had seen Edison's system in operation. About ten or 
twelve days later I received an acknowledgment from the man to 
whom I cabled in which he said he supposed I had been in America 
just about long enough to be able to draw the long-bow as well as any 
of those Yankees with whom I had been associating!" 

The secretary soon found that he must perform little duties not 
called for in the bond. Among other things, he had to buy clothes 
for Edison in order to keep him looking half respectable, for Edison 
himself was too much engrossed with the things that were in him to 
be fastidious about what was on him. Edison "took to" the young 
man at once. Within a few months Mr. Insull was given an interest 
in every Edison enterprise. He had to take entire charge of Mr. 
Edison's finances and looked after all sorts of personal and company 
affairs for his chief. 

"I used to open the correspondence and answer it all," Mr. Insull 
recalls, "sometimes signing Edison's name with my initial, and some- 


times signing my own name. If the latter course was pursued, and I 
was addressing a stranger, I would sign as Edison's private secretary. 
I held his power of attorney, and signed his checks. It was seldom 
that Edison signed a letter or check at this time. If he wanted per- 
sonally to send a communication to anybody, if it was one of his close 
associates, it would probably be a pencil memorandum, signed * Edi- 
son/ I seldom took down from Edison's dictation, unless it was on 
some technical subject that I did not understand. I was expected 
to clean up the correspondence with Edison's laconic comments as a 
guide as to the character of answer to make. It was a very common 
thing for Edison to write the words 'Yes' or 'No/ and this would be 
all I had on which to base my answer. Edison marginalized docu- 
ments extensively. He had a wonderful ability in pointing out the 
weak points of an agreement or a balance-sheet, all the while protest- 
ing he was no lawyer or accountant; and his views were expressed in 
very few words, but in a characteristic and emphatic manner." 

"How many hours a day might you have worked in those times?" 
I asked Mr. Insull. 

"I had to work in the office all day, look after the financial and 
business end, and then very often I would be with Mr. Edison at his 
laboratory most of the night," replied Mr. Insull. "We usually 
worked about four nights in seven. We seldom worked on Sunday 
nights but, as a rule, we were at it during most of Monday night and 
Tuesday night. By Wednesday night we were so exhausted through 
lack of sleep that we usually spent that night in bed. 

"Thursday and Friday nights saw us busy again until well into the 
morning. I have known Edison to work night and day ten days on 
end. He seemed to be able to do without sleep as long as a camel can 
go without water." 

These were busy days. Writing to an English friend two months 
after his arrival in New York, Mr. Insull expressed exuberant confi- 
dence in the prospects for electricity. He recited how he had seen 
700 lights burn the current generated from one electric machine for 
them all and supplied through mains of "no less than eight miles in 
length." He explained that the first district to be lighted up in 
New York would have about 15,650 lights and added: "I suppose 
that this district will be all lighted up in from three to four months 
and then you will see what you will see. You will witness the amazing 
sight of those English scientists eating that unpalatable crow of which 
Johnson used to speak in his letters to me when I was in the old 
country. ... A great difficulty is to get our machinery manu- 

The first central power station was opened in Pearl Street, in lower 
New York, in September, 1882. Mr. Edison had completed the in- 


vention of his incandescent lamp but encountered enormous difficulties 
in having supplies of the necessary materials manufactured, in in- 
augurating proper methods of distribution, in reducing the amount of 
copper required for the conductors, etc., etc. Mr. Edison had sold 
out for large sums his telephone and telegraph inventions and in- 
terests both in Europe and at home and this money he had freely 
poured into his various manufacturing companies for making lamps, 
electrical generators and motors, electric tubes and fixtures, and 
miscellaneous appliances. Although Edison spent his last penny, 
he could scarcely cope with the situation. 

"At one time everything looked so blue and so hopeless," Mr. 
Insull told me, "that Edison said to me one night in all seriousness: 
"If we cannot pull through, I can go back to earning my living as a 
telegraph operator and I suppose you could get along as a shorthand 

"For six months things were so involved and money so scarce that 
I was compelled to get a friend, who had been a little more thoughtful 
of the rainy day than the rest of us, to lend me money to pay for my 
meals and my room. 

"Mr. Edison, and I as his financial man, were harassed at every 
turn by creditors. Looking back from this long distance, I must 
confess that our troubles then were really very serious. 

"However, we stuck to it and finally managed to get on our feet. 
About the only people who were willing to assist us in those early 
days were J. P. Morgan and Henry Villard." 

Other veterans have told me that they question whether Mr. Edison 
would have been able to surmount the obstacles that met him at every 
turn had it not been for the heroic fight made by Sam Insull. What 
the world would have lost, how much of the progress of the last genera- 
tion would have been forfeited, had Edison succumbed and retired 
to oblivion, who can guess? For the loyal assistance and encourage- 
ment he then lent Edison day and night, the American people owe 
Mr. Insull a meed of gratitude. 

To escape incessant labour troubles at their machine shop on 
Goerck Street, N. Y., and at other points, it was decided to build works at 
Schenectady, N. Y., where there was an ample supply of workers and 
where the Schenectady Locomotive Works (now part of the Ameri- 
can Locomotive Company) had established a great reputation. Mr. 
Insull took charge of this epochal enterprise, and as its general man- 
ager built it up from a plant employing 250 men to one employing 
6,000. It was this plant which later formed the nucleus for the great 
General Electric Company. His close association with the wizard 
had enabled Mr. Insull to gain a thorough practical knowledge of 
every phase of the business and he also developed ability to handle men. 


Apropos of this, Edison was once asked to give particulars of Samuel 
Insull's collegiate education in connection with the latter' s applica- 
tion for membership in a learned society. Edison wrote down this 

"Samuel Insull's education has been obtained in the college of 

Recognition of Mr. Insull's yeoman service came in 1889. Various 
Edison manufacturing companies and the Edison Light Company 
were consolidated into the Edison General Electric Company. He 
became vice-president in charge of the entire manufacturing and 
selling ends of the business. He continued in this responsible position 
until shortly after June, 1892, when the Edison General Electric 
Company amalgamated with the Thomson-Houston Company to 
form the present General Electric Company. In the fall of that year 
Mr. Insull resigned to accept the presidency of the Chicago Edison 

He found this concern had a total capital of only $883,000, that it 
was not the largest concern in the city, and that it had almost a score 
of competitors. It employed only a handful of men and had a ca- 
pacity of only 4,000 horse-power. 

Few men have done more creative, constructive work, conceived 
more productive developments, or overcome more technical and socio- 
logical difficulties in the last twenty-five years than Samuel In- 

Instead of less than $1,000,000 of capital, Mr. Insull's Chicago 
company (now the Commonwealth Edison) has actual assets of 

Instead of 4,000 horse-power, it has 500,000 horse-power. 

Instead of consuming a few hundred tons of coal a week, the com- 
pany now uses as much as 300 tons of coal in a single hour. 

He is head of the People's Gas Company and of the Elevated Rail- 
ways of Chicago which, together with the electric company, have a 
turnover of $1,000,000 every week and represent the investment of 

Through the Middle West Utilities Company and other organiza- 
tions brought into being and controlled by him, Mr. Insull supplies 
350 communities spread over thirteen or fourteen states with electric 
light and power, bringing the total annual revenue of his various 
companies up to $75,000,000 a year and making the total investment 
capital between $400,000,000 and $450,000,000 for all the Insull 

His 1892 force of a few men has grown to an army of over 25,000. 

Customers have increased from hundreds to hundreds of thou- 
sands — and are still constantly increasing. 



Chair, of Bd. & Dir. 
President & Director 

Chair, of Bd. & Dir. 

The value of Commonwealth Edison has multiplied ioo times in 
the twenty-five years. 

Mr. Insull several years ago demonstrated in black and white that 
he could supply the elevated railroads of Chicago with current at a 
lower rate than they themselves could generate it, and his company 
now turns every elevated wheel throughout the city. 

Instead of several central stations peddling electric current, Chicago 
now has only one great station, the baby of 1892, now a giant of greater 
proportions than any other metropolis in the world can boast. 

Perhaps the best and briefest way to convey some idea of what 
Samuel Insull has achieved will be to present a list of the enterprises 
of which he is head either as chairman or president, and the concerns 
in whose management he has a voice as director: 

People's Gas Light & Coke Company 

Commonwealth Edison Company 

Public Service Company of Northern Illinois 

Middle West Utilities Company 

Illinois Northern Utilities Company 

Twin State Gas & Electric Company 

Sterling, Dixon & Eastern Railway Co. 

Central Illinois Public Service Company 

Kentucky Utilities Company 

Missouri Gas & Electric Service Co. 

Interstate Public Service Company 

Public Service Company of Oklahoma 

Electric Transmission Co. of Virginia 

Federal Sign System (Electric) 

Northwestern Elevated Railroad Company 

South Side Elevated Railroad Company 

The Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railway Co. 

Chicago & Oak Park Elevated Railroad Co. 

Chicago Elevated Railways Collateral Trust 

American Water Works & Electric Co. 

West Penn Traction & Water Power Co. 

West Penn Traction Company 

West Penn Railways Company 

West Penn Power Company 

Great Lakes Power Co., Ltd. 

International Transit Company 

Central Power Company 

Illinois Midland Coal Company 

Midland Counties Coal Company 

The Chicago & Alton Railroad Co. 

Electrical Testing Laboratories 

Chicago City & Connecting Railways Collateral Trust 

Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad 

Chicago & Interurban Traction Co. 


Chair, of Bd. & Dir. 


Chair. Exec. Comm. 


President & Director 


Member of Comm. 
Chair, of Bd. & Dir. 

His policy in dealing with the public — and the politicians — has 
been " Publicity." From the start he has advocated regulated 


monopoly of the public services, since duplicate plants mean waste 
investment and therefore higher costs to consumers. He has not 
hesitated to reveal the minutest details of his costs, the return on the 
capital invested, and everything else connected with the business. 
His theory has been that by securing an enormous volume of business, 
distributed as evenly as possible throughout the twenty-four hours, 
electric light and power could be sold at a lower figure than would be 
possible under any other conditions. 

As a matter of incontrovertible fact, Chicago, thanks to Mr. In- 
sull's tremendously aggressive policy, enjoys the lowest rates for elec- 
tric current of any large city at home or abroad. 

He has been a pioneer in installing new devices, especially the more 
recent high-power, costly machinery designed for large-scale pro- 
duction at lower costs. 

But while ceaselessly seeking to improve the production end, he has 
devoted even more attention to developing the selling end of the 
business. He has been a great believer in advertising, in making the 
public acquainted with what electricity can do for the housewife, 
the storekeeper, the manufacturer, the railways. While others 
sought to antagonize the investigation mania that swept over the 
country a decade ago, Mr. Insull willingly volunteered to put all his 
cards on the table. He also spent much time in giving private and 
public advice (through addresses, etc.) to other corporations to deal 
with the public frankly, fairly, and cheerfully. 

Mr. Insull believes that the age of electricity is only dawning, that 
developments of a magnitude not yet imagined are even now on the 
way, and that by and by the greater part of the world's work will be 
performed by the harnessing of the mysterious vital fluid in a thousand 
ways which even Edison has not yet had opportunity to tackle. 

He believes, for instance, that properly conducted central electric 
stations should and will furnish the power to run all the railroads in 
the country, the railroad people attending to the operation of their 
systems and the electrical people attending to the supplying of the 
motive power. To Mr. Insull, Germany's dream of dividing the 
whole country into a number of zones within which every house and 
factory and railway will be supplied by electric power from one huge 
plant in each zone, is not so extremely fantastic as many imagine. 
A similar scheme for the United Kingdom was proposed by a very 
famous British engineer, S. Z. de Ferranti, years ago. If Mr. Insull 
lives long enough I rather think he may do something along this line 
in the United States — indeed, he has already made a substantial 
start in Illinois and in a dozen or more Middle Western states, al- 
though so far he has not been able to do much with the steam rail- 


"What has been the hardest part of your battle — obtaining fran- 
chises, satisfying the people, or what?" I asked Mr. Insull. 

"Raising the money," was the emphatic reply. "The public are 
usually fair when they are fully and properly acquainted with the 

"And your greatest pleasure?" 

"The pleasure of achievement — of doing things, of building up, of 
creating something constructive." 

"What are the principal requisites for a successful career?" I next 

"Good health, imagination, persistency, and a good memory — and, 
of course, keeping everlastingly at it." - 

"How can a man acquire a good memory?" I pursued. 

"The way to cultivate a memory is to exercise it. The man who 
takes a great interest in his business has little or no trouble to remem- 
ber the main facts connected with it. You usually remember the 
people you like; in the same way, if you like your business, you can 
easily remember the facts governing it without even making any spe- 
cial effort. Don't carry a notebook in your hand all the time." 

"Why do so many young men and even older men fail to succeed?" 
was my next question. 

"Because they are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices. 
As Edison used to say, 'A man should never look at the clock except 
to be sure he gets to work early enough in the morning.'" 

Mr. Insull has always been an early riser — he is still about the first 
man to reach the office in the morning. 

"You often," Mr. Insull continued, "hear fellows in different com- 
panies and institutions remark: 'Oh, So and So is solid with the Old 
Man.' If you take the trouble to investigate, you will invariably 
find that the employee who is 'solid with the Old Man' is a real 
worker, one who is always on the job, one who is ready to do things at 
any hour and to go anywhere, whereas the complainer is likely to be 
more concerned about how he can find entertainment for himself in 
the evening than how he can increase his usefulness during the day. 

"Then, non-success is often due to inability to see things, to note 
intelligently what other people are doing, to learn what is what and 
to grasp new opportunities. They don't seem to keep their eye on the 

Mr. Insull is entitled to talk on such matters. He had to leave 
school shortly after he was fourteen — he was born on November n, 
1859 — and began life as an office-boy at #1.25 a week, a sum which he 
had to supplement by finding other duties in the evenings. He taught 
himself shorthand when still a boy — and the rest I have tried to tell 
in the foregoing brief sketch. 


His favourite hobby is farming. He has a 3,500-acre farm in 
Lake County, 111., about thirty miles from Chicago, where he is 
rendering invaluable service to the State by raising, and showing 
other farmers how to raise, high-class cattle, horses, sheep, and hogs 
and how to introduce improved methods of agriculture. 


MANY American mushroom millionaires affect art but few 
understand it or really love it. Quite a number of the 
nouveaux riches become enamoured of grand opera — ostensi- 
bly. Others develop a consuming passion for the collection of rare 
books and manuscripts — the contents of which they cannot ap- 
preciate. America has one notable financier who does not need 
a tutor when he goes picture-hunting, not even when he spends 
$500,000 for a Franz Hals masterpiece. Nor when he attends the 
opera does he need an interpreter, be the production in French or 
Italian or German. He knows more about the fundamentals of 
grand opera and its production than most professionals. 

While he has won a place second to none among modern financiers, 
he has made an even greater impress and achieved even more valuable 
ends in the realm of art and music and culture. He is Otto H. Kahn. 

He is a banker — plus. He is an art connoisseur — plus. No man 
has come more prominently to the front in finance during the last 
dozen years and no man has done so much as he, not only to give 
America the finest operatic fare in the world, but also to bring art — 
not only operatic art — within reach of the public. Though engaged 
during these years in the reorganization of more transportation sys- 
tems than any other man in America, yet he has found time to reor- 
ganize tjie Metropolitan Opera House from top to bottom, to provide 
opera of the highest quality for other leading American cities, to take a 
leading part in the Society of Friends of Young Artists, to arrange for 
excellent summer concerts at nominal prices, to be the main factor 
in the French Theatre of America, to be at the head of the Shakes- 
peare Tercentenary Committee, and to bring into being what was 
destined to be a model playhouse where people of small means but 
artistic tastes could enjoy wholesome dramatic food. 

Though an aristocrat by birth and breeding and association, Mr. 
Kahn's non-business activities have been inspired, not by a wish to 
tickle the whims and the jaded appetites of those of his own social 
standing, but by an inborn desire to furnish for the masses the mental 
and spiritual nourishment afforded by genuine art and beauty and 
culture. "For," as he said in a recent speech, "art is democracy, art 
is equality of opportunity, not the false democracy which, misunder- 
standing or misinterpreting the purpose and meaning of the demo- 




cratic conception, seeks or tends to establish a common level of medioc- 
rity, but the true democracy which, guided by the star of the ideal 
and firm in its faith, strives to lead us all onward and upward to an 
ever higher plane." 

When first these promptings took possession of him, shortly after 
his settling in New York and before he had made his mark in the 
financial world, he revealed his longing to his friend and confidant, 
the late Edward H. Harriman, half expecting that the railroad 
wizard, himself engrossed in business, would frown upon the ambition 
to mix music and art with money-making, the beautiful with the 
mundane, the ideal with the practical. In those days only dilettanti 
busied themselves in the production of opera or took an active part 
in matters of art in general. To spend time over such frills and 
frivolities was interpreted as reflecting a lack of seriousness of purpose, 
of only half-hearted interest in the stern realities of life and fortune- 

"Go ahead and do it," Mr. Harriman replied unequivocally. "If 
you don't let it interfere with your application to business, if you keep 
it in its place, it will do you not harm, but good. It will be exercise 
and practice for imagination. Don't you ever let your imagination 
get rusty." 

It was not long before Otto H. Kahn made his influence felt in 
things operatic. He took hold of the Metropolitan Opera House and 
reorganized it as he would have reorganized a railroad, purging it of 
deadwood, introducing valuable reforms, infusing new life into it, 
and setting up as its goal artistic achievement in place of mere mone- 
tary success, an operation that entailed the solving of many problems, 
the vanquishing of much opposition, and, incidentally, considerable 
cost to himself and the few kindred spirits who sympathized with his 
unselfish aims. But his wisdom was justified by its fruits, not only 
in New York but also in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. 

To Kahn, music, beautiful paintings, artistic statuary, literature, 
and other things often regarded lightly are meat and drink and reli- 
gion, the very essentials of a full life, indispensable food for both body 
and soul. He believes, with Carlyle, that "music is the speech of 

"Art," declares Mr. Kahn, "can be as educational as universities. 
It has elements which, to a great part of our population, can make it as 
nourishing as soup kitchens, as healing as hospitals, as stimulating as 
any medicinal tonic. Maecenases are needed for the dramatic stage, 
the operatic stage, the concert stage; for conservatories and art 
academies; for the encouragement and support of American writers, 
painters, sculptors, decorators — in fact, for all those things which in 
Europe are done by princes, governments, and communities. There is 


vast opportunity here for cultural and helpful work. To strive toward 
fostering the art life of the country, toward counteracting harsh 
materialism, toward relieving the monotony and strain of the people's 
every-day life by helping to awaken or foster in them the love and 
the understanding of that which is beautiful and inspiring, and aver- 
sion and contempt for that which is vulgar, cheap, and degrading — 
this is a humanitarian effort eminently worth making." 

How came Mr. Kahn to take the graces of life so seriously ? 

Briefly, he imbibed it at his mother's knee, was raised on it during 
the boyhood years spent in his own home, and had it parentally im- 
pressed upon him that, whatever the world might have in store for 
him, whatever his fate or fortune in things material, he must hold fast 
to the priceless, intangible things which alone could enrich the mind 
and the soul and give to life its savour. 

This home of Otto Hermann Kahn was in Mannheim, Germany. 
He was one of eight children. His father was a prosperous banker, 
and the Kahn home was a centre for artists, musicians, singers, sculp- 
tors, and writers. Young Otto's earliest ambition was to be a musi- 
cian, and before he graduated from high school he had learned to 
play several instruments. His father, however, had other plans for 
him. One brother was allowed to follow Apollo, and became Professor 
of Music at the Royal Academy of Music of Berlin. 

When Otto was seventeen — he was born on February 21, 1867 — 
he was placed in a bank at Karlsruhe, near Mannheim, where he 
received an unceremonious baptism into the financial cult, his princi- 
pal duties for some time being cleaning the inkwells of the other clerks, 
running out to buy sausages, beer, and other victuals for their lunch 
and being generally kicked around in a manner calculated to cure any 
symptoms of swell-headedness at the prospect of being installed as a 
"banker." Incidentally, it is difficult to picture the immaculate, 
dignified, polished Otto H. Kahn of to-day toting the beer can and 
wiping out inkwells! 

"Yes, it is true," Mr. Kahn admitted when I asked him if what I 
had been told about this was the truth. "And it was a useful, salu- 
tary training, for it taught discipline and order. One must learn 
to obey before he is fit to command. It instilled a proper sense of 
one's place and emphasized that the most humble duties must be 
performed conscientiously and without any loss of self-respect. I 
suppose I must have wiped the inkwells fairly satisfactorily, for it 
was not long before I was promoted and had another novitiate to 
clean my inkwell and fetch my lunch." 

During these apprenticeship years he attended lectures on art, 
continued to study and practise music, and in other ways fulfilled the 
parental injunction not to neglect this side of his development lest 


he contract a wrong perspective of life and of the relative value of the 
materialistic and the idealistic. After three years' service in Karls- 
ruhe he went into the army as a hussar for a year, an experience which 
has left its traces to this day: Mr. Kahn is straight of back, invariably 
correct in posture, precise and snappy in deportment. 

The young banker's training was to be Teutonically thorough. 
Mere domestic experience was not enough ; he must needs be broadened 
by international travel and service. His next step, therefore, was 
to enter the important London agency of the Deutsche Bank. Here 
he displayed unusual talents and rapidly rose to be second-in-com- 

Although he had not gone to London with any settled purpose to 
make his home there permanently, he developed so intense a liking and 
admiration for the English mode of life, both political and social, 
with its unbounded freedom, breadth, opportunity, and inspiring 
traditions, that he renounced his German citizenship and became 
naturalized as an Englishman. Comparison between life in Eng- 
land and that in Germany moved him to choose the former. He 
became an "Englishman from conviction." 

This same spirit of democracy, coupled with a desire to enhance 
and diversify his knowledge of banking, impelled Mr. Kahn to seize 
an opportunity to gain first-hand insight into the functioning of the 
greatest republic under the sun. His talents had attracted the notice 
of the Speyers in London, and they ofFered him a position in their 
New York house. Mr. Kahn came to the United States in 1893, 
intending to remain here only temporarily. 

But he found his task here of absorbing and arresting interest, and 
life and the people very congenial. Particularly did he find one 
American congenial. In 1896 he married Miss Addie WolfF, daughter 
of Abraham WolfF, one of the early upbuilders of Kuhn, Loeb & 
Company. It was on January I, 1897, that Mr. Kahn joined the 
firm whose prestige and influence, already great, he was destined to 
enhance extraordinarily. He had the good fortune to be thrown into 
immediate contact with Harriman — and Harriman had the good 
fortune to be thrown into contact with Kahn. The two, notwith- 
standing sharply defined differences in temperament and method, 
became as brothers. Harriman in business was gruff, truculent, 
domineering, almost spoiling for a fight. As Mr. Kahn, with true 
insight and praiseworthy candour says in his excellent study of Mr. 
Harriman — the only serious appraisement published of the great 
railroad gladiator: "Smooth diplomacy, the talent of leading men 
almost without their knowing that they were being led, skilful achieve- 
ment by winning compromise, were not his methods. His genius was 
the genius of a Bismarck, of a Roman Caesar. His dominion was 


based on rugged strength, iron will and tenacity, irresistible deter- 
mination, indomitable courage, tireless toil, marvellous ability, fore- 
sight almost prophetic, and, last but not least, upon those qualities 
of character which command men's trust and confidence; his rule was 
frankly the rule of the conqueror. He was constitutionally unable 
either to cajole or dissemble. He was stiffhecked to a fault." 

Mr. Kahn, the travelled, cultured banker and diplomat, although 
not possessed of the bonhomie or the captivating smile of a Schwab, 
had learned the value of suavity, of covering the iron fist with a velvet 
glove, of cultivating the cooperation and good-will of others rather 
than rousing their combativeness and their ill-will. Often he reasoned 
with Harriman to use more gentle methods, but Harriman would in- 
variably reply: "You may be right that these things could be so 
accomplished, but not by me. I can work only in my own way. I 
cannot make myself different nor act in a way foreign to me. This is 
not arrogance on my part. I simply cannot achieve anything if I 
try to compromise with my nature and to follow the notions of others." 

Although only thirty years of age, Mr. Kahn almost immediately 
became Harriman's right-hand man in the gigantic task of reorganizing 
the Union Pacific, a task which in its early stages had been handled 
by the head of Kuhn, Loeb & Company, Jacob H. SchifF, with a skill 
and effectiveness for which Mr. SchifF did not receive adequate credit. 
Harriman discovered in the young banker a mind as quick and fertile 
as his own, a depth and breadth of vision astonishing in a man so 
young, ability to analyze mathematically and scientifically, not only 
financial, but railroad problems with a thoroughness and accuracy 
which captivated the railroad wizard. That Mr. Kahn owes some- 
thing of his subsequent success in railroad finance to his intimate 
association with Harriman, he would be the last to deny. Indeed, 
he has preserved for the memory of his great friend the most profound 
affection and reverence. 

To-day Otto H. Kahn is recognized as perhaps the ablest reorganizer 
of railroads in the United States. The systems which have been or 
are being treated by him, in addition to the Union Pacific, include 
the Baltimore & Ohio, Missouri Pacific, Wabash, Chicago & Eastern 
Illinois, and the Texas & Pacific, not to mention other similar opera- 
tions to which he has been called in as a consulting financial physician. 

"Reorganizations," remarked Mr. Kahn, "embody a certain ele- 
ment of romance; they call for constructive imagination. To take 
a broken-down property, a few streaks of rails, and aid in working a 
transformation which will bring into being a great transportation 
system to serve the country and, incidentally, to rehabilitate the 
owners, is a species of creative work which fascinates me. It yields 
the joy of creation. 


"Taking hold of the Metropolitan Opera House when it had ceased 
to do full justice to its functions and was living largely on its reputation 
and on the splendour of a few big stars, neglecting the other attributes 
of a great opera house, such as a chorus, stage setting, orchestra, and 
ensemble work, also appealed to this desire to create something. Just 
like a broken-down railroad, it did not have the necessary equipment 
to make it a complete, well-rounded organization. To take a hand 
in remodelling this institution and making of it a great symmetrical, 
artistic organization with its appointments and equipment function- 
ing effectively, was an irresistible task and one well worth doing, 
both for the creative joy it carried with it and the valuable public 
service thereby attained." 

It was Kahn who, after all efforts to cure by conciliatory methods 
the inveterate mismanagement of the great Missouri Pacific system 
had failed to bring results, finally resorted to steel and gave the Gould 
dominion the coup de grace. 

It was Kahn, also, who saved the financial world from what threat- 
ened to be a disaster of very dangerous potentialities by jumping 
forward and rescuing from collapse the famous Pearson-Farquhar 
syndicate which, with more ambition than judgment, had over- 
extended itself in a daring attempt to weld together a transcontinental 
system out of a combination of existing lines controlled by powerful 

It was Kahn, too, who played a leading role in the intricate, delicate 
negotiations which led to the opening of the doors of the Paris Bourse 
to American securities and the listing there of $50,000,000 Pennsyl- 
vania bonds, in 1906 — the first official listing of an American security 
in Paris. And it may be suspected that he had no small share in 
the negotiations which resulted in the issue by Kuhn, Loeb & Com- 
pany of $50,000,000 of City of Paris bonds and $60,000,000 Bordeaux, 
Lyons and Marseilles bonds during the war. 

To come down to another recent instance, Mr. Kahn has taken so 
valuable a part in the formation and conduct of the $50,000,000 
American International Corporation with its vast potentialities for 
furthering America's world position in trade and finance that its 
president, Charles A. Stone, remarked to me: "I don't know what 
we would have done without the counsel and practical assistance of 
Mr. Kahn. He is a wonder. His understanding of international 
affairs is amazing." 

Mr. Kahn has more than fulfilled the prediction made years ago 
by Thomas F. Ryan when discussing informally the coming financial 
giants; as he walked and talked Mr. Ryan espied Mr. Kahn coming 
along the street and remarked: "Here comes a man who will be 
among the first in the list." 


It was Kahn who finally succeeded in persuading Harriman to 
abandon his cast-iron mask of secrecy; to reveal himself, his methods, 
and his aims with great frankness during the last two years of his life. 
Harriman had followed the methods of the mole, burrowing here, 
there and everywhere, allowing the public to catch a glimpse of his 
activities only when the fruits of his burrowing came to the surface. 
Kahn, having early realized the potency of democracy and clearly 
foreseeing the trend of events, urged Harriman to take the public into 
his confidence, to cease dodging the representatives of the press, and 
thus have the public with him rather than against him in his many 
plans for the development of the nation's transportation facilities, 
plans which both Harriman and Kahn earnestly believed were con- 
ducive to the enlargement of the country's prosperity and efficiency, 
agriculturally as well as industrially. Even in the short time Harri- 
man lived after his change of attitude he accomplished wonders in 
disarming and winning over public opinion, and had he lived a few 
years longer he probably would have become a national hero. 

In an address on "High Finance," Mr. Kahn made this statement: 
"One of the characteristics of finance heretofore has been the cult of 
silence; some of its rites have been almost those of an occult science. 
Finance, instead of avoiding publicity in all of its aspects, should 
welcome and seek it. Publicity won't hurt its dignity. A dignity 
which can be preserved only by seclusion, which cannot hold its 
own in the market place, is neither merited nor worth having. We 
must more and more get out of the seclusion of our offices, out into the 
rough and tumble of democracy, out to get to know the people and 
get known by them. The eminently successful man should beware 
of that insidious tendency of wealth to chill and isolate. He should 
never forget that the social edifice in which he occupies so desirable 
quarters has been erected by human hands, the result of infinite effort, 
sacrifice, and compromise, the aim being the greatest good of society; 
and that if that aim is clearly shown to be no longer served by the 
present structure; if the successful man arrogates to himself too large 
or too choice a part; if, selfishly, he crowds out others; then, what 
human hands have built up by the patient work of many centuries, 
human hands can pull down in one hour of passion." 

For his own part Mr. Kahn is doing much to make finance and 
financiers understood by the people. He is attaining no mean repu- 
tation as a writer on financial and economic subjects and as a public 
speaker. Moreover, while he does not court the limelight from day 
to day, he is invariably willing to see financial reporters and others 
and to give them all reasonable information as well as sane views on 
current happenings. 

Incidentally, while on this phase of his character, I might add that 


Mr. Kahn may frequently be seen sitting in the low-priced seats in 
the Metropolitan Opera House and mingling freely with the audience 
there, with those real lovers of art who are willing to wait in line for 
hours to gain admission and who go to hear, not to be seen. 

In conceiving the New Theatre it was Mr. Kahn's idea to supply 
wholesome plays, presented with as near an approach to perfection 
as attainable, at moderate prices for the benefit of people of ordinary 
means, and to set an example to professional theatrical producers to 
the end that the whole theatrical business might be elevated to a 
higher plane. In this movement Mr. Kahn and those associated 
with him were ahead of the times, hence the project, as originally 
planned, had to be abandoned. The New Theatre has now been 
transformed into the Century Theatre, which differs little from other 
New York playhouses. However, another movement along some- 
what similar lines was inaugurated by Mr. Kahn and others in con- 
nection with the Shakespeare Tercentenary and something permanent 
may be evolved. 

Greater success promises to attend the foundation here of the 
French Theatre, of which Mr. Kahn is chairman. In many other 
ways Mr. Kahn has contributed and is contributing continually to 
the support of things dramatic and artistic and to the encourage- 
ment of the artistic world and its people, including genuine young 

His activities are not confined to New York. In addition to being 
chairman of the Metropolitan Opera Company, he was chairman of 
the Century Opera Company (founded to give opera at popular 
prices), treasurer of the New Theatre, vice-president and the principal 
founder of the Chicago Grand Opera Company, and director of the 
Boston Opera Company. He is also honorary director of the Royal 
Opera, Covent Garden, London, and is equally well known in French 
operatic circles. As a matter of fact, Otto H. Kahn is the foremost 
figure of the world in grand opera, known in Europe as well as in 
America for his understanding and appreciation of all art and his 
helpfulness to art and artists. 

I asked Mr. Kahn what advice he had to offer to ambitious young 

" Think" he flashed back. " The young man who applies himself 
seriously to thinking will by and by be amazed to find how much 
there is to think about. He should never be content simply to take 
things as they are. Nor should he be satisfied with the accomplishing 
of one task, no matter how worthy or important, but should continue 
thinking and thinking and he will find many channels opening up for 
his activities. 

"Doing — acting — is the second stage. Sufficient depth and com- 


prehensiveness of thought leads to a corresponding depth, degree, and 
quality of action. 

"The young men — and their elders — in this country now have an 
opportunity such as has come to no other nation since the middle of 
the seventeenth century, when England rose to conspicuous greatness. 
It is preeminently a time for fundamental thinking and wise, broad- 
gauge action on the part alike of statesmen, business men, labour, 
and every other element of the nation. Every great privilege carries 
with it a corresponding duty and obligation. In the present emer- 
gency, we must first of all clarify our collective mind by serious thought 
and study." 

Several years ago, a little weary of the drudgery of business and of 
the tremendous stress and strain of his activities in America, and 
tempted by the vision of a quieter and more settled life, Mr. Kahn 
planned to return and enter British public life. He was cordially 
welcomed and was duly accepted as a parliamentary candidate. It 
was characteristic of him that he chose for his constituency a district 
almost wholly populated by working people. Not very long after, 
however, the cables brought the news that Mr. Kahn had abandoned 
his political ambitions and had decided to return to America. 

"I discovered, ,, Mr. Kahn told me, "that my roots had gone too 
deeply into American soil ever to be transplanted. The microbe of 
America had entered my blood and could not be dislodged. I found 
I had been mistaken in thinking that I could forsake America for 
England. A little taste of a life of leisure there convinced me that I 
wanted to and was bound to return to the strenuous life I lead here, 
to my work and associates, my duties, responsibilities, and aspirations 
and do what little might be in my power to aid in constructive develop- 
ment, both in a financial and a cultural way. Work is infinitely 
preferable to loafing." 

Having reached the final conclusion that his place and his heart 
were in America, Mr. Kahn became an American citizen. 

The palatial, historic home, St. Dunstan's, which Mr. Kahn ac- 
quired from the Earl of Londesborough, in 1913, when he had visions 
of settling there, was turned over by him, when the war broke out, 
as a hospital and home for blinded soldiers and is still in use for that 
purpose. Mr. Kahn, of course, was from the start intensely pro-Ally. 
But, also of course, he is not against the German people at large. 
He considers this war not as a mere conflict between nations in which 
the call of blood or race or former affiliations and relations may be 
heeded, but as a fundamental conflict between civilization, govern- 
mental methods, ideals and ethical conceptions. His eldest daughter 
— he has two daughters and two sons — was for some time a Red Cross 
nurse in France. 


Notwithstanding all that he does for art and artists, Mr. Kahn 
takes an active interest in a number of other worthy institutions, 
including the Boys' Club at Avenue A and 10th Street, New York 
City, founded by the late Mr. Harriman, and the Neurological In- 
stitute, which Mr. Kahn helped to establish to study and seek a cure 
for that characteristic American malady, nervousness born of the 
strenuous life. 

When he cannot find anything big to do in finance or in art, Mr. 
Kahn manages to fill in the time driving a four-in-hand, riding, auto- 
ing, golfing, sailing, playing the violin or 'cello (of which he is a master) 
or reading — he makes it an inviolable rule to read for one hour every 
night before going to bed, no matter how late the hour. His wide 
reading, extensive knowledge, and diversified experiences have enabled 
him to come to the front lately in authorship. 

One of his most notable contributions to the discussion of public 
questions was made at the annual dinner of the Association of Stock 
Exchange Brokers in January, 1917. "The New York Stock Ex- 
change and Public Opinion" was the title of his address and it con- 
tained so much sane thought that the Stock Exchange authorities 
published it in pamphlet form and it reached a circulation rivalling 
that of the "best sellers." Among the points Mr. Kahn covered 
were: Should the Exchange Be Regulated? Is the Exchange Merely 
a Private Institution? Short Selling — Is It Justifiable? Does the 
Public Get "Fleeced"? Do "Big Men" Put the Market Up or 
Down? The Responsibility of Members of the Exchange. 

Another article by Mr. Kahn en "Some Comments on War 
Taxation," originally written before the first draft of the war tax bill 
was laid before Congress in the spring of 1917, also excited wide- 
spread interest because of its breadth of view, its concrete constructive 
suggestions, and its patriotism — he advocated, for example, a high 
tax on all excess profits over the"pre-war average, saying: "It is abso- 
lutely right that no man, as far as it is possible to prevent it, shall 
make money out of a war in which his country is engaged." Mr. 
Kahn also "did his bit" in arousing the country to the need for sub- 
scribing liberally to the Liberty Bonds. 


ONE American could have a crown for the asking. He is the 
uncrowned king of the tropics, the Cecil Rhodes of Central 
America, a demigod in the eyes of half a dozen republics. 

He sits daily in an unpretentious office at Battery Place, New 
York, a silent Hercules transforming the American tropics from a jun- 
gle to a fruit garden; creating prosperity, health, and peace where only 
poverty, disease, and revolutions formerly luxuriated; steel-rail linking 
Central American republics to one another as a necessary preliminary 
to their union into one powerful commonwealth; and plodding, also, 
to make it possible to travel from New York, Chicago, or San Fran- 
cisco all the way by rail to Panama or even to Rio de Janeiro. 

"When Mistah Keith comes here de country has a holiday. You 
can't get within blocks of de station. He is de greatest man ever 
live— an* de best-hearted. De poor know dat." 

That was the tribute paid Minor C. Keith by a coloured waiter in 
the San Jose Hotel in Costa Rica's capital when I mentioned the great 
civilizer's name. 

Minor C. Keith was a Brooklyn lad who, at sixteen, started in a 
men's furnishing store on Broadway, New York, at $3 a week; didn't 
care for selling collars, socks, and neckties; and quit in six months to 
become a lumber surveyor. He made $3,000 in the first year and 
then went into the lumber business on his own account, his father 
having been in that industry. 

Before old enough to vote he was raising cattle and hogs on a 
bleak, uninhabited island called Padre Island (as long as Long Island) 
near the mouth of the Rio Grande. He had looked over the country 
after the Civil War and decided to settle on this forsaken territory. 
Only one other family lived on the island. 

Here young Keith trained for the battle of life, under rough, nerve- 
trying circumstances, with two revolvers never unhitched from his 
belt and with cattle-thieves and other care-free gentlemen all about 
him when he crossed to Texas and the Mexican border to buy cattle. 
He rose at four every morning, roughed it for sixteen hours daily, 
often slept outside — and prospered. 

He reared and bought cattle all over the surrounding territory to 
kill for their hide and tallow. The beef, not worth anything in Texas 
in those days, was fed to swine! He amassed a herd of 4,000 stock 




cattle and 2,000 pigs. Stock cattle were then worth #2.50 to $3.00 
and steers brought $1.00 for each year of their age. (To-day, alas! 
we city folk pay 35 cents a pound or more for the choicest parts of 
such steers!) 

Once a hurricane blew fully a thousand cattle over the edge of 
the island into the sea. They swam to the mainland, five miles dis- 
tant. After the hurricane they were rounded up and driven back 
across the shallowest part, where the water ordinarily reached the 
pommel of the cowboy's saddle. A count revealed that not more 
than a dozen had been drowned. 

Then something happened to change the course of Keith's career. 
His uncle, Henry Meiggs, was the famous builder of the first railway 
over the Andes and of other epochal South American lines. Minor's 
eldest brother, Henry Meiggs Keith, had joined his uncle in Peru and 
had taken over a contract from his uncle to build a railroad in Costa 
Rica for the Government. One day, in 1 871, Minor received a letter 
from his brother asking him to come to Costa Rica. 

"He told me," said Mr. Keith, "that I would make more money 
in Costa Rica in three years than I could make in Texas all my life. 
Perhaps there was a railroad tinge in the family blood. I went." 

Little did he dream that his migration was destined to shape Cen- 
tral American history. 

The whole Atlantic Coast from Mexico to Panama was then a dense, 
unexplored, formidable jungle, with only a few Caribs and Creoles 
here and there who eked out an existence by fishing for hawksbill 
turtle, gathering sarsaparilla, vanilla beans, and wild rubber. There 
was no steamship service to any port in Central America on the 
Atlantic side. 

Minor's job was to run the commissariat of the railway. His 
brother subsequently died and the constriction of the railway was 
suspended through the Government not being able to supply the 
money. In order to carry out his brother's undertaking he re- 
contracted the coast line of the railway with the Government. Also, 
to make possible the building of the mountain section for which the 
Government had not the needful $6,000,000, he made a contract with 
the Costa Rican Government to settle their external debt which had 
been defaulted for thirteen years. He proceeded to London and after 
many difficulties arranged a settlement of the debt and all arrears of 
interest, and obtained $6,000,000 for the construction of the railway. 

Before the railroad was begun the journey from San Jose down to 
the coast, about 100 miles, took, during bad weather, about two 
weeks' trudging through woods, bogs, and jungles infested with reptiles. 
The Costa Ricans had a saying: "The man who makes the journey 
once is a hero; the one who makes it twice is a fool." 


Puerto Limon was the name given the coastal starting-point of the 
railroad. Not one house marked the spot. Not one pound of fresh 
beef was to be had, not a single fresh vegetable, not an ounce of ice 
to combat the satanic heat. All was jungle, snakes, scorpions, 
monkeys, mosquitoes. 

The construction of the railway on the coast commenced in a jungle 
and ended in a jungle, which was entirely devoid of population. 
Many of the rivers had no name. Subsistence for two or three years 
was principally on salt codfish and a sprinkling of canned goods. 

The surveying over, the real troubles began. Labour could not be 
enticed to such a graveyard. The natives abjured the fever-soaked 
coast as they would a plague. 

But Minor C. Keith had undertaken to build this railroad for the 
Costa Rican Government and he meant to do it. 

Off he went to New Orleans and began engaging labourers — cut- 
throats, robbers, thieves, and other riff-rafF. He rounded up 700 of 
them. The Police Commissioner warned Keith that his collection 
was more dangerous than dynamite. 

Such was the cargo of the first steamer in history to sail from New 
Orleans for Central American Atlantic ports, the Juan G. Meiggs, 
owned by the Keiths. The voyage was eventful. 

The boat struck a coral reef north of Belize, Honduras, and began 
to pound — pound — pound upon the jagged rocks. The captain lost 
his head — the pandemonium was terrific. A barrel of liquor fell into 
the hands of the 700 ruffians and scores of them promptly got drunk! 
Then they mutinied and became threatening. But Keith was not 
white-livered. He armed his foremen, issued peremptory orders and 
succeeded in cowing the 700. 

The ship finally backed off, Port Limon was eventually reached and 
the men set to work, at a dollar a day. Of the 700 not more than 
twenty-five ever returned. The deadly jungle claimed the rest. 

Subsequently De Lesseps was struggling to cut the Panama Canal 
and labour was not to be had, as the higher wages paid in Panama 
enticed the labourers away. Yet Keith would not give in, although 
hundreds died around him, including first one and then another of his 
own brothers. Fever also overtook him often, but he fought on — 
fought and planned. 

On account of the difficulty in obtaining labour 2,000 labourers 
were brought from Italy. At the cost of #200,000 for transportation, 
food, and drink acceptable to the Italians, wages, etc., he brought 
them — and fondly imagined he had solved his labour problem. Alas! 
blackhand letters quickly began to bombard him; disease — of course 
— broke out, and the digging of so many graves unnerved the whole 


One night the entire gang disappeared into the woods! And the 
first thing Keith knew, a ship sailed along and took away the last 
man of them to Italy! Their leaders had slyly chartered the vessel. 

What was the cost in life of the first twenty-five miles of that Costa 
Rican line? 

Four thousand lives, including three of Minor's own brothers. Yet 
the average working force was only 1,500. 

Civilization was advancing through blood and bleached bones. 

Another tragedy happened. The Government ran short of money. 
It could not pay the monthly estimates except by notes. The 
enterprise on which the country had set its heart would have to be 

Costa Rica did not know Minor C. Keith as well then as it does to- 
day. He determined to spend his own last cent in prosecuting the 
work. But the financial panic of 1873, as bad as any in American 
history, upset all calculations, and his resources gave out. 

Even then he did not succumb. 

He had in his employ about 1,500 Jamaican Negroes. Summoning 
them, he explained the circumstances and offered to repatriate those 
who were sick or who wanted to go home. Such was their faith in 
"Mistah Keith" that a decision to stand by him was carried by 
acclamation. For nine months those 1,500 black men worked loyally 
for Minor C. Keith without a pay-day. 

"That incident gives me as much satisfaction as any in my whole 
life," Mr. Keith admitted. "I pensioned many of the Jamaicans 
who had worked with me and had risked their life with me times with- 
out number." 

When the financial skies cleared and the Costa Rican Government 
was in funds, the full nine months' wages were paid, and the Govern- 
ment paid all its obligations to Keith, including his large losses 
caused by the want of funds. 

But fever, reptiles, labour, and money were not the only things the 
pioneer railroad-builders had to contend with. In Costa Rica when 
it rains it rains. Port Limon had a fall of over 20 feet — 250 inches — 
in one year. The rivers became leaping torrents. 

Washout after washout occurred. Temporary bridges were swept 
away time after time until permanent steel structures were erected. 
One, on the Matina River, was destroyed thirty-one times! 

"The narrowest escape I ever had was on that bridge after the 
permanent one was erected," Mr. Keith remarked reminiscently. 
"I've had so many close shaves that I've forgotten about most of 
them. I've been shipwrecked three times, been upset in the surf 
and rivers many times, had tropical fevers of all varieties, and encoun- 
tered all kinds of difficulties. But that day sticks in my mind! 


"My superintendent wired me to come and inspect the bridge at 
Matina River. When I got there the river had risen twenty-five 
feet. The superintendent and a mason were standing on the bridge 
and a white man and four Negroes were working on it. I saw that 
the only thing that was supporting the cylinders (on which the bridge 
rested) was a steel cable they had fastened to a tree on the shore. 
Before I could order all hands off the cable snapped and the structure 

"I made one desperate leap toward the shore span, the base of 
which rested on an offset of the cylinder. This span did not collapse, 
but stood out over the river like a bracket. I caught the end of a 
tie with my left hand and gripped it as I had never gripped anything 
before. I was athletic and didn't slip. But I didn't hang there over 
that boiling torrent very long! The superintendent and the mason 
saved themselves somehow, but the other five were pitched into the 
river and drowned." 

In the midst of his arduous railroad building the pioneer conceived 
other projects. 

This jungle road had no traffic, nor would it have any until it 
reached the 5,000-feet mountain-tops. But he leased the uninviting 
coast road from the Government. Shortly after landing he had 
brought a few banana plants from Colon, and the Juan G. Meiggs 
took 250 bunches to New Orleans from Colon on her first voyage, these 
being the first bananas taken by steamship to the New Orleans mar- 
ket. Year in, year out he expanded his banana plantations, and 
the hauling of the fruit kept his road busy. In 1915 over 7,000,000 
bunches of bananas — say, 1,000,000,000 bananas, or ten for every 
man, woman, and child in the United States — were shipped from Port 
Limon ! Mr. Keith also built up large interests in Panama, Colombia, 
and Nicaragua. 

Ever on the alert for opportunities, he early set up as a storekeeper. 
Commissaries in Costa Rica were followed, in 1873, with a store in 
Bluefields, Nicaragua, the first there, and various other points on the 
Central American coast as far north as Belize, Honduras, for the pur- 
chase of rubber, sarsaparilla, and tortoise shell. 

His experience in growing bananas, his knowledge of soil and jungle, 
his familiarity with transportation by water and land, his ability to 
attract and satisfy Jamaican labour, his reputation for trustworthi- 
ness, his adamantine physique, his irrepressible energy, his un- 
conquerable will — all these qualities contributed to his success. 

He became the largest grower of bananas in Central America. His 
shipping facilities developed apace. His store and commissary opera- 
tions alone ran into millions of dollars. And he finished his Costa 
Rican railroad after seventeen years' building. 


All this brought him wealth. 

Then disaster came. 

His United States agents, to whom he consigned all his bananas, 
failed. Over $1,500,000 paper bearing his name and drawn upon this 
firm was outstanding. 

Keith had saved Costa Rica. Costa Rica, to its eternal credit, 
sprang to save Keith. Within a few days #1,200,000 was offered to 
him by the Government, the Costa Rican banks and individuals. In 
two weeks he reached New York and met every dollar of his debts. 

Vv ithout delay he had to find new distributing agents for his bana- 
nas as his whole international machinery was out of gear. 

Andrew W. Preston was then the greatest factor in the banana 
industry in New England and the North, just as Mr. Keith was in 
the South. The Preston fruit came from Jamaica, Cuba, and San 
Domingo and did not compete in the Southern markets. 

The two giants joined forces. They formed the United Fruit Com- 
pany, destined to become the greatest single force in developing Cen- 
tral America, in bringing the United States into commercial and social 
touch with her Latin neighbours, in conquering the tropics — and in 
keeping down the cost of living in this country. 

Mr. Keith's fruit properties were valued at over $4,000,000 on 
going into the United. His hardships had not been suffered in 
vain ! 

The record of the Preston-Keith enterprise — embracing Cuba, 
Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, 
Salvador, and the Canary' Islands- — forms one of America's most ro- 
mantic commercial chapters. The United Fruit Company has spent 
over $200,000,000 in cultivating the tropics; it gives employment to 
60,000 men at wages several times the rate they formerly received; 
it has built and operates over 1,000 miles of railway and tramways; 
it has spent millions of dollars in fighting fever and in building hospit- 
als. Its "Great White Fleet" constitutes the best and largest array 
of ships America can boast — some forty-five steamers are owned 
outright and nearly as many more are under long charter. The 
United has knit together every republic and every island in the tropics 
by its huge wireless stations. It has built many lighthouses on the 
coast of Central America. 

It is the biggest farmer, and almost the biggest grocer, on earth. 
It owns upward of 1,200,000 acres, equal to half the State of Delaware. 
Over 250,000 acres are actually under cultivation. Its livestock 
includes 20,000 cattle and 6,000 horses and mules! 

Its tropical plantations and equipment are valued at over 
$50,000,000 and its steamships at $17,000,000. Its total assets foot 
up to $90,000,000. 


But Keith is first, last, and all the time a railroad builder. His 
heart is in that. Two steel rails run through all his dreams. 

Like Cecil Rhodes, the far-seeing founder of the Cape-to-Cairo 
railroad, Minor C. Keith "thinks in continents." Also like Cecil 
Rhodes, he has conceived an international railroad that stirs the 
imagination, a railroad, as already told, that will join North America's 
transportation system with that of Central America and later with 
South America, a steel highway that one day may run from one end 
of the New World to the other. The advance of civilization, the 
welding of peoples together, the abolition of racial misunderstanding 
—these are the inspiring aims and end sought. 

To dream and not do, avails little. Keith has laboured with un- 
believable success to make his dream come true. 

The International Railways of Central America — the "Pan- 
American Railway" — is not a mere paper railroad. Half of it is al- 
ready built. Connection has been made, on the Pacific side, with 
the National Railways of Mexico, at the Guatemala boundary. The 
road runs down the Guatemala coast and then cuts clear across the 
continent, to Puerto Barrios, on the Atlantic side; this transconti- 
nental line is now in profitable operation. From mid-continent the 
line is being built straight through the little republic of Salvador to 
La Union, on the Pacific. Next it will pass through Honduras and 
join the Nicaraguan road. The Costa Rica system will then be 
reached, and from Port Limon to the Panama Canal will be the final 
link on the northern side of the "great divide." The South American 
extension, Mr. Keith is confident, will follow. 

Some 600 miles of the International Railways are actually operat- 
ing — and making money. And the daring project is daily creeping 
toward completion. 

"I have heard, Mr. Keith, that you hope to bring about the union 
of the five Central American republics — Guatemala, Salvador, Ni- 
caragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Is that your ambition?" I asked. 
He gazed into space. Then: 

"I believe that will come. It will be a great thing for them all. 
But only railroads can bring it about. The people of Costa Rica 
are still strangers to the people of Nicaragua although their countries 
adjoin. There must first be commercial and social intercourse. The 
railroad will make that possible." 

When you travel in Central America you learn that Minor C. Keith 
can have anything he wants because the people regard him as their 
biggest friend, their "father" their leader, one of themselves. Mr. Keith 
married the daughter of one of Costa Rica's early presidents, Jose 
Maria Castro, lived there continuously for twenty-seven years, spent 
millions in relieving disease in the tropics, and feels in a sense respon- 


sible for the welfare of these undeveloped little nations. Not once has 
he or his companies had the slightest rupture with any Latin govern- 

So if Keith by and by decides that the time is ripe for the creation 
of a Central American Commonwealth the chances are that it will 
be established. 


HERE is a New England idyl. From such rustic scenes and 
surroundings, from such rocky soil have sprung many of the 
men whose names are writ large in the annals of American 

The speaker in this instance is Darwin P. Kingsley, president of the 
New York Life Insurance Company with #2,500,000,000 insurance in 
force and assets of $900,000,000, a figure not approached by any 
other insurance company in the world : 

"On the 40-acre farm, in Vermont, where I was born, everything 
we wore and everything we ate was grown on the farm, except a little 
sugar once in a while in place of the maple sugar, which was indige- 
nous, and a little tea. From a dozen sheep came wool which was first 
spun and then woven by hand into winter clothing. Our garden 
supplied flax which was made into summer garments. Even the 
thread we used was manufactured in our home. The sound of the 
spinning and flax wheels was rarely silent from morning till night, 
for five children, in addition to our parents, had to be clothed. What 
we called coffee was made from parched wheat or corn. I well re- 
member the first time my father took his wool and swapped it for 
fulled cloth. We all regarded that as an epochal advance into a 
higher state of civilization. 

"At Alburg, where I was born, there were not then (1857) enough 
houses to form even a hamlet. In the summer I attended the old 
'deestrict' school, a primitive affair, innocent of any suggestion of 
higher education. In our home were very few books. Life there was 
clean through and through, self-respecting, and full of moral and 
religious discipline. But it was extremely narrow, uninspiring, and 
unimaginative. There was little or nothing to fire a boy with ambi- 
tion or enthusiasm or to acquaint him with the world that lay beyond 
his 'cabined, cribbed and confined' sphere. At first I had no larger 
vision than any of the other folk there. 

"But one day something happened. It was only a little talk with 
our family doctor, yet it changed the whole course of my life. He said 
to me, 'You ought to go to school.' I told him I was going to school. 
He said, 'Oh, yes; but I mean you ought to go on and study Latin.' 
I asked him, 'What is Latin?' He told me: 'You cannot understand 
your own language unless you know Latin. What does subtraction 




mean? What does it come from?' I told him it meant just sub- 
traction. Then he explained to me that the word came from two 
Latin words, sub meaning 'from' and trahere, meaning 'to draw'" — to 
draw from under. 

"A whole new world flashed into my vision at that instant. There 
was a world, I realized, that I had known nothing about. This 
glimpse of it made me resolve there and then that I would study hard 
and learn all about it. Before I was twelve I had finished Greenleaf's 
Common School Arithmetic, but though the little school had nothing 
much beyond that to offer I continued to work on the farm in summer 
and to go to school in winter until I was seventeen. I was sent to 
Swanton Academy for one winter term and to Barre (Vt.) Academy 
for one spring term. Dr. J. S. Spaulding, head of the academy, was a 
very noted man, and under his guidance I became determined not to 
quit school, as had been intended, but to work my way through 
both academy and college. 

" Between terms I worked as a day labourer in the fields, swinging a 
scythe all day or tilling the fields. I got through the academy before 
I was twenty, and without knowing where the money was to come 
from, I went to the University of Vermont, at Burlington, and took 
the entrance examination. This was in the spring. 

"During the summer I saved $45 working on a farm, and the farmer 
agreed to lend me additional money to go to college if I could give him 
security in case I died — he was not afraid of his money if I lived. Dr. 
Spaulding was an ardent believer in life insurance and used to im- 
press upon his students the many advantages of a good policy, em- 
phasizing, among other things, that it could be used on occasion as 
security. I took out $1,000, in the Metropolitan Life, although the 
cost, $20 a year, was a tremendous drain upon my resources. I 
handed the policy to my farmer benefactor. This incident, doubtless, 
is responsible for my being president of the New York Life In- 
surance Company to-day. 

"Off I went to Burlington, some forty miles from home. My ex- 
penses for the first year at college totalled exactly $165. How could 
I live on that? Well, my mother used to send a roast turkey and a 
few other things that would keep. I lived chiefly on boiled potatoes, 
bread, and milk. After a while, even though I had had my fill of 
boiled potatoes, I felt ravenously hungry for some kind of meat. I 
fought against this gnawing appetite as long as I could, but succumbed 
one day and bought a little box of chipped beef. I reasoned that by 
nibbling at it I could drive away this hunger for quite a few days. 
The moment I got out of the store I opened the box to have just a tiny 
slice, but the instant I got a taste of the meat I devoured it, to the last 
scrap, right there on the street. 


"I paid all my college bills by ringing the college bell seven times a 
day, calling the chapel and all the classes. If I rang that bell five 
seconds ahead of time I got 'Jessy' from the boys, and if I was a second 
late the professors jumped on me. This drilling in punctuality was 
one of the best things I derived from my college course. I don't 
think I have ever been late in my life since." 

The day labourer, bell-ringer, and semi-starved youth became the 
prize orator of the University, a Phi Beta Kappa man, and a notable 
scholar in Greek, Latin, and mathematics. His struggles did not end 
with the winning of his A.B. degree, however. Hard as the climbing 
of the hill of learning had been, a still rougher road lay ahead. 

"What was your ambition on finishing college?" I asked Mr. 

"The height of my ambition was to get a position as a teacher at 
#1,000 a year. In my eye that was the acme of success — and opu- 
lence. I had a vague longing to become a lawyer, but as I was in 
debt, I felt I must get to work right away. At that time almost every 
ambitious young man had an irresistible desire to go West. The cos- 
mic urge struck me, and I went along, going first to a sister who lived 
on a ranch in Wyoming. It did not take me long to realize, however, 
that baling hay, tending cattle, and riding bronchos would not get me 
very far toward my goal. So off I set for Cheyenne. 

"There, in that far-off town, without a friend, without work, and 
possessing only $15,1 became terribly homesick for the first and last 
time in my life. I was so bad that I would go to the station and watch 
with intense envy the brakeman on the rear end of a train going East! 
My loneliness almost drove me insane. 

"But I had to buckle to and find something to do. I could not 
afford to sit and mope. An old fellow I met in the second-rate hotel 
I stopped at befriended me and put me in the way of starting to peddle 
books. I tramped all over northern Colorado until I fell ill at Long- 
mont. The kindness then shown me by strangers is one of my 
happiest memories; although I was nothing but a travelling book 
agent, the people took as good care of me as if I had been one of their 
own kin. 

"After I recovered I was selling a book to an old milkman who told 
me he hailed from Vermont. We got to chatting, and I told him I 
was going to Denver. 'What are you going to do there?' he asked. 
'I don't know, but I think that is the best place for me to strike,' I 
replied. He finished by recommending me to a lawyer friend of his 
in Denver, also from the Green Mountain State. This lawyer became 
one of my dearest friends and continued so until the day he died. 
As it was not feasible for me to read law, I found a position as a 
teacher at #70 a month — but of this I had to pay #45 every month for 


my room and board. I remained for a year at this circumscribed 

"The old impulse to go West again seized me, and as the Ute In- 
dians were then being removed from the valley of the Grand River, 
preparatory to opening it up for irrigation, I migrated to Grand 
Junction, then a place of tents, log huts, saloons, dance halls, and other 
characteristics of a rough-and-tumble frontier town. Before the 
irrigation scheme was completed no more vegetation grew in that 
valley than on Broadway. 

"With $500 which I managed to borrow from a friend at Oshkosh, 
I bought a half interest in the Grand Junction News, then a struggling 
weekly, but now an influential daily. I was then twenty-six. But 
being editor of a frontier-town paper was no picnic. Graft was rife 
and I showed up the grafters. Things became so lively that I often 
had an armed guard in my room while I slept. At one period I never 
went on the street without my hand clutched on a six-shooter in my 
coat pocket, ready for business/' 

"Did you have any fisticuffs or gun battles?" I asked. Mr. 
Kingsley's reply was evasive. Finally I persuaded him to tell what 
manifestly was in his mind. 

"Well," he began, "I was a Republican, and when the Democratic 
governor appointed a gang of disreputable carpet-baggers to the local 
offices, we wanted our own people. The fellow appointed County 
Commissioner was particularly objectionable, and I made fun of him 
in the paper over some silly thing he did. My partner warned me 
that there would be trouble. Sure enough, the morning the paper ap- 
peared, as soon as I went on the street, he came straight toward me. I 
was not anxious for trouble — indeed, my aversion to street rows had 
begun to create an impression that I was more courageous with my 
pen than with my right arm. 

"White with rage, he struck at me. I was no boxer, but it dawned 
on me that he didn't seem to know much about the game either; so I 
parried his blows, and when he saw that he could not get me that way 
he kicked me in the stomach with his heavy ranch boot. I caught 
enough of the blow to make me mad, and I struck him on the chin with 
such force that I lifted him off his feet. He landed on the sidewalk. 

"After that I had less trouble. The funniest immediate effect was 
that a big Irishman who had been anxious to lick the Commissioner, 
but didn't quite have the nerve, came to my house that evening with 
a bumper basket of strawberries and presented them as a sort of 
thank offering!" 

Shortly after that Mr. Kingsley was named a member of the delega- 
tion from Colorado to the Republican National Convention at Chica- 
go, and in the following year, 1886, he was elected State Auditor and 


Superintendent of Insurance, with headquarters, of course, in Denver. 
There he found it necessary to go after fake insurance companies and 
to give insurance much study. Dr. Spaulding's preachings about 
the value of life insurance became very real to him, and the more he 
studied insurance the more deeply convinced he became of its value, 
both to individuals and to society. In short, he became a whole- 
hearted insurance convert. 

Therefore, when George W. Perkins went to Denver and offered 
him the post of Inspector of Agencies for the whole of the New Eng- 
land territory of the New York Life, Mr. Kingsley gladly accepted. 

"I took up my headquarters at Boston in the beginning of 1889," 
said Mr. Kingsley, "and remained there until 1892. And here I am." 

That sounds very simple — "And here I am." But when he came 
he was merely superintendent of agents, whereas now he is president. 
The intervening years have been filled with constructive, aggressive, 
clear-sighted work. They have covered the years of trials and crises 
for the insurance companies, years during which the weak and the 
unworthy have gone to the wall and the strong and worthy have 
forged to the front. 

It was, as a matter of fact, the first onslaught upon the New York 
Life and its president, William H. Beers, that was directly responsible 
for Kingsley's coming to headquarters. Both Mr. Perkins and he, 
on being summoned to New York at that time, at once took up the 
cudgels on behalf of the company and its head. Both could wield a 
pointed pen; both could rally and stimulate despairing agents; both 
could ably meet the newspaper attacks. Although President Beers 
was reelected by the board, he resigned rather than have the com- 
pany's interests injured, and when John A. McCall was elected to the 
presidency both the young Western gladiators were promoted. 

Then when the historical insurance investigations of the Armstrong 
Committee began in 1905, Darwin P. Kingsley came to the front as a 
man of unusual calibre, unquestioned character, and farsighted states- 
manship. By this time he had mastered not only the insurance 
business but had cultivated a thorough grasp of its collateral financial 
and investment problems. After the smoke of battle cleared away 
only one man stood out as conspicuously fit for the presidency. When 
Alexander E. Orr, elected temporarily to succeed Mr. McCall, stepped 
out in 1907, Mr. Kingsley, without contest or question, was elevated 
to the presidency. 

The company had not then a dollar invested in farm mortgages, but 
Mr. Kingsley's Western experiences had taught him that here was a 
safe and profitable field for the investment of insurance funds. To- 
day the company has $30,000,000 out on loans to farmers, of which 
$17,000,000 was supplied in 1916, every dollar representing a soldier 


fighting against the high cost of living through facilitating the develop- 
ment of agricultural production. Similarly, Mr. Kingsley intro- 
duced the innovation of investing in trustworthy municipal bonds. 

His aim, as he impressed upon the whole force, was not necessarily 
to have the New York Life the largest insurance company in the 
world, but to have it the best and strongest. While, therefore, its 
$2,500,000,000 insurance in force is exceeded by two other companies, 
both doing "industrial" insurance, no competitor can show, within 
two or three hundred million dollars as much assets. Of course, Mr.* 
Kingsley is a believer in healthy growth, and the amendments which 
have been secured in the original law limiting the amount of new 
business undertaken have been largely the result of his exertions by 
pen and speech. 

For years the most serious insurance office problem was the delay 
and congestion occasioned by the necessity of keeping thousands of 
records in very ponderous volumes. While one clerk was writing 
data from one page of the tome, scores of other clerks were waiting to 
get at other pages. No solution was found until Mr. Kingsley tackled 
it personally; he overcame the whole difficulty by introducing a card 
system from which blue prints were made by the Cooper-Hewitt 
photographic process. The value of this innovation cannot be 
grasped by the layman. 

Tradition has it that prize orators at school never shine as speakers 
in later life. D. P. Kingsley, of the Vermont University class of '8i, 
has broken this rule. Not only is he the author of more than one 
book on insurance, its fundamental principles and universal ramifica- 
tions, but he is a brilliant orator and is in constant demand to 
address business associations, educational institutions, and all sorts 
of banquets — one of his neatest addresses, although he is not a stickler 
for creeds and doctrines, was recently delivered to a large body of 
Episcopal clergymen on "The Sin of the Church." 

Mr. Kingsley is a man of big ideas. As head of an organization 
which does business in every civilized country of the world and which 
finds the people of one country ready to pay their money into a cen- 
tral fund to be used for the benefit of the people of all other nations 
in common, he has a consuming conviction that this same principle of 
cooperation between nations could and should be extended to the 
general affairs of life throughout the world, thus evolving one colossal 
democracy recognizing and founded on the brotherhood of man. 
We have outgrown tribe life and clan life; on more than one continent 
we have progressed from independent and isolated states to common- 
wealths and federations. Why not, asks Mr. Kingsley, carry this 
development across national boundaries? 

War, he contends, is the logical and inevitable fruit of the doctrine 


of sovereignty. How can democracy supplant sovereignty and re- 
move the war-breeding friction which rule by sovereigns begets? 
Here is Mr. Kingsley' s answer, delivered in a recent address: 

"Ultimately through the federation of the democratic world, but, 
as a first step, through the re-union of the Anglo-Saxon world. This 
re-union must be accomplished not to over-awe any other people, 
not to pile up force with which to meet force, not to eliminate small 
nationalities or make great ones afraid, but primarily to make the 
Anglo-Saxon world really democratic — democratic, inter-state as well 
as intra-state — democratic as our forty-eight States are internally 
democratic. Such a federation (not confederation) would almost 
certainly come to include — perhaps before its completion — France, 
Holland, Switzerland, probably the Scandinavian countries and Spain, 
and possibly some of the republics of South America. 'The Parlia- 
ment of Man* would then be something more substantial than a poet's 
dream. . . . What an opportunity! What a glorious opportu- 
nity! After the hideous ruin of 1914-15-16, after seeing Europe do 
what our States would certainly have done but for Alexander Hamil- 
ton and the great Federalists who drove the Federal Constitution 
through in 1787-8, after seeing the Southern States fearfully attempt 
its ruin in 1861-5, after coming ourselves up out of the world of little- 
ness and jealousy and fear, after feeling the pride that citizenship in 
this great Republic justifies — can we not now see a nobler picture, 
do we not get a wider vision, do we not hear the call of a still more 
majestic citizenship? . . . The Anglo-Saxon Republic: The 
United English Nations. Who shall estimate its significance?" 

Insurance knows no national boundaries. After the war began 
the New York Life maintained offices and met claims in Germany as 
well as in France and Austria, Russia and England. Each people 
has paid into one common fund and from that common fund, com- 
posed of the moneys drawn from all nations, receives succour according 
to contract. 

"I look upon life insurance as an international evangel preaching 
the gospel of internationalism and brotherhood with a force and 
cogency equalled by no other agency," Mr. Kingsley impressed upon 
me with all the earnestness of a Moody or a Beecher. 

Of Mr. Kingsley's qualities, perhaps the most notable is his square- 
ness. He hews to the straight line and will tolerate no deviation 
therefrom by any one representing the company. He insists likewise 
upon a square deal for the company. His social friends, when playing 
pranks, often take advantage of his guilelessness, I am told. Mr. 
Kingsley has childlike faith in his fellowmen — the world appears to 
us largely as a reflex of our own make-up. 

At first glance he gives the impression of seriousness almost to the 


point of gruffness, but when he starts to speak all this melts. An inti- 
mate told me that he once remarked to Mr. Kingsley: "If your face 
could only reflect your heart, people would warm up to you more the 
moment they come in contact with you/' 

Neither his tremendous business responsibilities nor his activities 
as a scholar, a writer, and an orator, consume his whole energies. Un- 
til recently he was president of the unique Hobby Club, each member 
of which must have a hobby and a creditable collection; Mr. Kings- 
ley's is Shakespeariana, and as the foundation of his collection he was 
fortunate in securing the four folios more than twenty years ago. 
He is president of the Seniors' Golf Association, another novel body 
whose annual tournament at Apawamis attracts veterans from all 
over the country. He is also an enthusiastic disciple of Izaak Walton. 
He took a leading part in organizing the Safety First Federation and 
became its president. The American Museum of Natural History 
numbers him among its life members. 

His philosophy of life has led him to subscribe unreservedly to the 
creed of his favourite poet: "The merry heart goes all the day, the 
sad one tires in a mile a'." In his journey through life he seems to 
radiate good cheer. 

His eldest son, Walton P. Kingsley, graduated from his father's 
Alma Mater in 1910 and is now assiduously climbing the insurance 
ladder. His other sons are Darwin P., Jr., and John M., both stu- 
dents at Groton. Mr. and Mrs. Kingsley — the latter, Mr. Kingsley's 
second wife, was Josephine I. McCall, daughter of the late John A. 
McCall — also have two daughters. 

I have made the discovery that the ambition of nearly every suc- 
cessful man is to receive an honorary degree from his Alma Mater. 
Mr. Kingsley won this honour at forty-four. 

cyrus h. Mccormick 

CARNEGIE once expressed pity for millionaires' sons. He de- 
clared that their fond parents, who had travelled a hard, 
stormy road, were fearful lest a puff of cold wind touch the 
cheek of their precious offspring. Mollycoddles, not men, were thus 
bred, poor, pampered, dependent weaklings, unable to stand on their 
own feet, to fight their own battles, or make a place for themselves in 
the world. 

"It is a handicap, being the son of a rich man," complained the heir 
of one of America's foremost financiers the other day. " If you simply 
go in for sport and pleasure and never amount to anything, people 
remark: 'That's all you can expect of a rich man's son/ If you apply 
yourself seriously to study and then to business, work hard, and 
think hard, and succeed in accomplishing really important things, 
you get no credit whatever. People then say: 'Why shouldn't he 
amount to something? Look at all the advantages he had; every- 
thing came his way.' You are damned either way." 

There is truth in both these statements. Many millionaires do 
rear dainty, hothouse sons who are of less worth than ciphers since 
they consume much and produce nothing. Other millionaires bring 
up, not pleasure-chasing ornaments, but young men, strong, self- 
reliant, well-disciplined, well-trained, and inculcated with the princi- 
ple that they must use their talents and their possessions diligently 
and worthily and so win an honourable place in the world. 

"I want my sons to know how to endure hardship," was the rule 
laid down by the brainy, capable mother of Cyrus H. McCormick, 
the present president of the International Harvester Company, an 
organization whose plants and appliances and ramifications far trans- 
cend those of the more loudly advertised Ford motor factory. 

Let me relate how the boy Cyrus earned his first money, since it 
illustrates the character of his upbringing. Twenty-two tons of coal 
had been dumped on the side of the roadway a hundred yards from 
the cellar of the McCormick home to be loaded into a wheelbarrow, 
trundled across the grounds, and emptied into the coal bin. The 
twelve-year-old Cyrus volunteered to do the job if his mother would 
pay him the regular rate of fifty cents a ton allowed for this work. 
She readily consented, and for several days the schoolboy kept load- 
ing and pushing and emptying that wheelbarrow until the last pound 


cyrus h. Mccormick 


of the twenty-two tons had been deposited in the cellar. His back 
was nearly broken and his hands were badly blistered, but when the 
work was done he placed $11 in his bank and resolved to set about 
earning #100 as fast as he could. 

There was a sad sequel. 

By doing many other jobs about the house and never missing an 
opportunity to earn a few cents or a few dollars, he accumulated in 
three years his $100 and deposited it in a savings bank. He had at- 
tained his first financial ambition. By his own efforts he had become 
a capitalist. His achievement gave him intense satisfaction. 

One month later the bank failed! Carlyle could not have felt 
worse when he discovered that the maid had burned the manuscript 
of his "French Revolution"; De Lesseps could not have suffered 
more through the collapse of his Panama Canal venture; nor could 
Jay Cooke have been more poignantly chagrined over the loss of 
his millions than was young Cyrus McCormick over the loss of his 
hard-earned savings. 

"It was a terrible blow," he told me not long ago, "and it took me 
some time to accept philosophically the consoling words of my mother 
that the experience of toiling industriously for the money was worth 
much more to me than the money itself. But," he added with a 
laugh, "I now believe she was right." 

In gathering material for this character sketch I asked one of Mr. 
McCormick's Princeton classmates, who has remained intimate with 
him ever since, what were some of Mr. McCormick's predominant 

"He is the personification of 'John Halifax, Gentleman.' He 
might well stand, also," he replied, "for the man in that well-known 
anecdote about the new footman who was engaged during his mas- 
ter's absence and who, on being told to go to the station to meet his 
master, asked his mistress how he would be able to recognize him. 
'He is a tall man and you will be sure to see him helping some one,' 
she told him. That's Cyrus McCormick — a tall, robust man who is 
constantly helping some one. Even when at college he regarded the 
inheritance that was to come to him in the nature of a responsibility, 
a stewardship, something entailing upon him a great duty rather than 
bringing him any privileges or mere pleasure. He had inherited a 
name which he must honourably uphold and would inherit a vast 
business which he must administer creditably for the sake of its 
founder, for the sake of the thousands dependent upon it for a liveli- 
hood, and for the sake of its farmer customers all over the world who 
looked to it for dependable machinery." 

Few sons have more worthily administered their heritage. Not 
only as a business man, as head of an enterprise that distributes its 


agricultural implements in every civilized country throughout the 
world has Cyrus H. McCormick amply fulfilled parental hopes; but 
he has attained equally noteworthy success as a public-spirited citizen, 
as an employer considerate of his workers, as a helper of his fellow- 
men. Were all wealthy men of his type, millionaires would not be 
held in such suspicious regard by the people. 

It is trite to say of a man that he is democratic. Cyrus McCormick 
is democratic; but he is something more than that. During the 
Columbian Exposition in 1892 there was a dearth of men to push the 
roller chairs while Mr. and Mrs. McCormick were showing a friend 
and his mother the sights, and without any fuss Mr. McCormick put 
his wife in one chair and the friend put his mother in another and 
they pushed the chairs for a couple of hours. Other men might do a 
thing like that; but there are not many men of Mr. McCormick's 
resources who live as simply and indulge in as inexpensive pleasures 
and recreation as he does. Instead of maintaining a fleet of yachts 
or a string of race-horses, his favourite diversions are tramping in 
forests or over mountainous country, camping in remote spots amid 
the beauties of nature, canoeing in little-explored streams, felling trees, 
chopping wood and other activities demanding physical exertion but 
affording healthful mental relaxation "far from the madding crowd." 

"A man cannot work successfully and work hard unless he loves 
it and unless he keeps in sound physical condition," declared Mr. 
McCormick. "A man who simply sits continuously at his desk with- 
out taking exercise to keep him in trim will not do his best work. 
The best tonic and restorative for a tired man is to get next to Nature. 
Tramping and camping in the woods is the best thing I know of for 
developing, not only a man's physique, but his mentality and his 

It is not surprising, rather is it natural, that Cyrus H. McCormick 
should be a man of both physical and mental power, of sustained in- 
dustry, of broad vision, of large heart, of rational tastes, sensible of 
his responsibilities in the world. He was born of such stock. From 
a combination of these qualities sprang the reaper, one of the half- 
dozen greatest blessings the nineteenth century brought to mankind, 
since it virtually abolished famine and gave bread even to the poorest 
of civilized peoples. 

The reaper was not born without travail nor nurtured without 
struggle and stress, pinching and plodding. No laurels were im- 
mediately placed upon the brow of the young inventor in 1832, the 
first Cyrus H. McCormick. No grateful acclaim greeted his discov- 
ery. No fortunes were laid at his feet for his epochal invention. In- 
stead, he ran the whole gamut of ridicule and penury and hardship; 
of blasted hopes and blighted ambitions. But through it all, though 

cyrus h. Mccormick 243 

at one time he lost every penny, he at no time lost faith. He ex- 
hibited unconquerable courage, unwavering tenacity, and indomitable 
optimism. And he won. Indeed he afforded the world one of the 
few instances of an inventor personally becoming a manufacturer on 
an international scale and garnering a large fortune from the universal 
adoption of his idea. 

Even before the first Cyrus H. McCormick was born, in 1809, a 
McCormick, his father, had sweated and struggled to construct a 
machine that would cut grain. In his workshop on his farm under 
the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Robert McCormick, grand- 
father of the subject of this sketch, worked constantly for years to 
invent a workable reaper. Early in 1831 Robert McCormick brought 
a machine from his smithy, hitched horses to it, and tried to cut a 
field of wheat. His experiment was a flat failure and he gave up his 

Not so the son, however. He started on an entirely new track, 
evolved the reciprocating blade and in a few weeks he built a reaper 
containing the basic principles of one that the world now knows. 
On its first tryout it cut six acres of oats. Its first public trial in the 
following year was on hilly, uneven ground, and as it did not instantly 
work satisfactorily it was jeered at and laughed to scorn until a 
prominent neighbour, a member of the State Legislature, arrived on 
the scene and ordered that one of his fences be torn down and the 
machine given a fair chance on an adjoining field owned by him. 
Here it worked smoothly and successfully. 

The world before then had been dependent on the sickle, the scythe, 
and the flail for its bread. Mankind then had no steel plows, no 
sewing machines, no telegraph or telephone, no photography, no 
postage stamps, and no railroads to speak of. In the little log work- 
shop on that remote Virginia farm had been created a machine that 
was destined to drive hunger from the world. It was destined to en- 
able the North to preserve the Union by freeing its able-bodied men 
from the hand-harvesting of the fields. It was destined, moreover, 
to lead the western march of civilization. The reaper likewise was 
to put men upon the soil, to transform the United States from a 
wheat-importing to a great wheat-exporting nation, and was to draw 
hundreds of millions of dollars to this country from the pockets of 
foreign buyers. 

But success was not to be won at once. It took nine years to find 
the first buyer of a reaper! 

From 1 83 1 to 1840 not one machine could be disposed of — not even 
with the aid of an advertisement offering the reaper at $50. Mean- 
while the young inventor had taken to digging ore from the ground 
and smelting it, a business he thought would give him working capital. 


The terrible panic of 1837 swept him into bankruptcy. No creditor 
cared to attach his grotesque machine — nobody thought it worth 
having. The sale of two machines in 1840 helped a little, but 1841 
was a blank. The next year brought seven orders, the next twenty- 
nine, and the next fifty. 

The Virginia farm was far removed from transportation facilities 
and remote also from the developing wheat centres of the Middle 
West. So in 1846, when thirty-seven years of age, McCormick set 
out to survey the country for an ideal location for his works. With 
characteristic shrewdness he chose a straggling village, untouched by 
railroads, on the shores of Lake Michigan. It could not even boast 
of one public building and it had a queer name, Chicago. There he 
found a partner willing to pay $25,000 for a half interest in the busi- 
ness and began to manufacture the McCormick reaper on a sizeable 
scale. He established agencies at over a score of central points and 
adopted the then novel method of advertising "Money back if not 
satisfied." He offered to send a reaper to any farmer, let him use it, 
and, if not pleased with the results, return it at the maker's expense. 

Then came constant harassment from competitors, a mass of legal 
suits and other worries and difficulties. Yet McCormick found time 
to plan and do big and still bigger things. In 1851 he sent an exhibit 
to the London Exposition, and although its appearance drew forth 
the ponderous wit of staid British journals, the London Times, after 
the reaper had been put to a practical test, retracted all its previous 
abuse and declared, "It is worth the whole cost of the Exposition." 

The great Chicago fire of 187 1 wiped out the McCormick works, 
the most extensive in the city. McCormick was then sixty-two years 
of age, had accumulated a fortune of several million dollars, and 
measured by ordinary standards, had done more than his share of the 
world's work. Would he retire? He put the question up to Mrs. 

"Re-build at once," was her immediate and emphatic verdict. 

She had in mind not only the welfare of their army of workmen, but 
also the future of another Cyrus H. McCormick, by this time twelve 
years of age. She did not want her boy to become an idler, or a mere 
society ornament. She was an intellectual, devout, painstaking, 
capable woman, zealously training her son to be a useful, upright 

I had the good fortune to meet one of little Cyrus's boyhood play- 
mates who told me that, even when a mere lad, Cyrus was kept con- 
stantly informed about the business of the family, usually from his 
parents. The other boys used to wonder at his knowledge of a world 
about which they knew nothing. They pitied him because business 
discussions often caused an interference with his play, but they had a 

cyrus h. Mccormick 245 

vague sort of admiration for the attention he was called upon to give 
to the general business affairs of the family. 

It was characteristic of the McCormicks that they sent their son 
to the public school in Chicago — "the best in the world, better than 
any private school," remarked Mr. McCormick in discussing his 
schooldays. "There were sixty-five boys and girls in my class, 
and the poorest children usually were nearest the head of the class, 
so that it took real, hard study to hold one's own." Later he entered 
Princeton, but was brought back to enter the business after two years' 
study, as his father was then (1879) seventy years old. 

"My father taught me that I must work, and must work out my 
own salvation, that I was to have no favouritism, that I must apply 
my whole energy to learning every phase of the business," Mr. Mc- 
Cormick told me. "He impressed upon me that constant industry 
must be combined with intelligent thinking in order to attain success. 
No amount of inherited money, he explained, could gain for me or 
any one else a high and honourable place in the world, but each man 
must carve his own way, and by the sweat of his brow and brain earn 
his own station in business and the world. 

"Under such conditions and counsel I began my apprenticeship. 
I am as thorough a believer in such a policy as my father was, and am 
applying it to my own sons, one of whom began in overalls on leaving 
college, at the lowest round of the ladder in the branch house of the 
International Harvester Sales Department at Wichita, Kansas, pre- 
liminary to starting in at headquarters in Chicago. My other son is 
at Princeton." 

In 1884 the inventor of the reaper died, and the present Cyrus H. 
McCormick became the head of the McCormick Harvesting Machine 
Company, the largest industry of its kind in the world. It was a 
tremendous responsibility for a man of twenty-five years of age to 

"I was really carried along at first by the tide of the organization," 
Mr. McCormick modestly explained. "There were able, trusted 
managers who supervised things until I found myself and became as 
much of a real president as I could. It was, I confess, a somewhat 
staggering responsibility, for our business practically covered the 
world. We were at home in every wheat field on the globe. We had 
agencies in many lands and had to keep in touch with agricultural, 
business, and financial conditions all over." 

How well Mr. McCormick measured up to his responsibilities was 
demonstrated sixteen years later, in 1902, for when the great Inter- 
national Harvester Company was organized by J. P. Morgan & Com- 
pany, he was selected as president of the company. 

And here let me set down the truth about how this merger came 


into existence, for more fiction — picturesque fiction, most of it — has 
been printed on this subject than on almost any other industrial 
episode in America. 

Under Cyrus H. McCormick, the McCormick, Harvesting Machine 
Company was expanding aggressively, even in face of the cut-throat 
competition which had raged for years, and one day Mr. McCormick 
came to New York and visited Morgan & Company with a view of 
having them raise additional capital to take care of the growing 
business. The alert George W. Perkins, then a Morgan partner, 
immediately the matter was broached asked, "Why not form a large 
and new company with capital much greater than anything which 
now exists?" He had had an active hand in forming the billion- 
dollar Steel Corporation in the previous year and saw an opportunity 
to bring off another gigantic coup. Negotiations were promptly 
started with the leading harvester concerns. There were bitter rival- 
ries and jealousies to handle, but the problem was solved by buying 
each company outright and leaving J. P. Morgan & Company to 
organize the new corporation exactly as they saw fit, not only fixing its 
capital, but choosing the executives. There were no stipulations 
that this man or that man must be engaged for this position or the 
next position. Morgan & Company, as sole organizers, had an 
absolutely free hand. 

Their choice of Cyrus H. McCormick as president was dictated 
solely because they saw in him the best man for the job. He was 
strong physically and mentally, he was a glutton for work, he had so 
managed his own company that it was the foremost in the field; he 
was young, forceful, enterprising, long-visioned, and had earned the 
fullest confidence of the farmers here and abroad. 

Mr. McCormick is no ornamental executive. For several years 
after the International was formed, Charles Deering, as chairman, 
shared the burdens, but for the last half-dozen years Mr. McCor- 
mick has been the sole executive head of the organization. He 
has spent a great deal of time in the different countries of Europe, 
especially Russia, developing demand for the corporation's products 
— and was selected by the United States Government as a mem- 
ber of the Root Commission to Russia, where "McCormick" is a 
name to conjure with. 

I cannot refrain from relating here an incident that brought McCor- 
mick into notice abroad. He had been commissioned by his father 
to take a binder, then quite a novelty, across to the great show of the 
Royal Agricultural Society of London to be held in that city. On the 
voyage the boat carrying the machine was wrecked and it lay in salt 
water for several weeks, but was rescued just in time to rush it to 
London for the field test. The other machines appeared on the scene 


beautifully painted and drawn by the finest of horses. Young Mc- 
Cormick conceived the idea of entering his rusty, dilapidated-looking 
machine without giving it even one daub of paint and of having it 
pulled by a couple of disreputable-looking nags. The " exhibit " 
tickled the risibility of all the spectators, who made it the butt of a 
constant volley of jokes and squibs. The shining, speckless compet- 
ing machines, with their exquisitely groomed steeds, did their work 
more or less satisfactorily. Then the pitiable McCormick entry was 
lined up while everybody waited to see the fun. Lo! Off went the 
shaggy horses, click-click went the blade, and in thirty seconds the 
ridicule gave way to admiration, for not one of the gaily-caparisoned 
exhibits had cut down and bound grain with the speed and efficiency 
of this queer contraption rescued from a salt-water grave. It won, 
hands down. 

The Harvester's activities are not confined to reapers and binders; 
it manufactures some thirty different machines for farmers. The 
invention of the reaper in 1831 was followed in the 70's by the inven- 
tion of the wire binder, the twine binder and, more recently, by the 
wonderful machine that also stacks the grain, while the principal 
problem now under solution is the development of a tractor which will 
mechanically displace horses in drawing the modern powerful binders, 
plows, and other implements used on a large scale by progressive 

Here are figures which illustrate the enormous extent and the 
wide diversity of the International Harvester's operations: 

Harvesting Machines (Grain, Grass, and Corn) 975»ooo 

Tillage and Seeding Machines 525,000 

Engines, Tractors, and Motor Trucks 105,000 

Wagons and Manure Spreaders 90,000 

Cream Separators 35>ooo 

Gray Iron Castings — Pieces 45,000,000 

Malleable Iron Castings — Pieces 75,000,000 

Malleable Chain Links 75,000,000 

Bolts 95,000,000 

Nuts 150,000,000 

Twine — tons 125,000 

Cars shipped from all Works (1916) 60,054 

Lumber requirements 1916 (board feet) 120,000,000 

Steel requirements (tons) 1916 267,000 

Amazing as production figures of the International are, there is 
still 40 per cent, of the world's grain cut, not by machinery, but by 
hand. Cyrus McCormick is directing much of his energy and the 
energy of his organization to remedying this. The largest untapped 
market for American farm machinery is in Russia, where millions 


and millions of acres still know nothing but the hand sickle ana the 

"If the revolution is as successful as is expected," said Mr. McCor- 
mick in reply to my questions before President Wilson selected him 
as a commissioner to Russia, "the tremendous potential resources of 
Russia should be developed more rapidly than in the past. Russia's 
latent power, its vastness, and its possibilities impress one more than 
those of any other country in the world." 

Notwithstanding all his business duties, Mr. McCormick has 
found time to be a human, humane being. One thing impressed me: 
no man I have ever written about has been quite so admiringly spoken 
of by his friends as Mr. McCormick. 

"He is absolutely the best man I know," declared a prominent man 
of affairs who has met and mingled with most of the leading figures in 
America. " His constant thought is : 'What is right ? what is my duty ? 
what ought I to do?' His success as a business man is well known, 
but no one but himself knows half the good he has done in aiding 
worthy individuals and worthy causes. He has inherited the teach- 
ings of his Calvinistic forefathers, but is without the severe, almost 
harsh traits that often accompany the followers of Calvin and Knox. 
His treatment of his employees has been noble, thoughtful, and gener- 
ous, and I understand that he maintains personally a bureau to look 
after his own individual philanthropies. He also has a close rela- 
tion to the McCormick Theological Seminary for the education of 
preachers. He has always been personally interested in and a con- 
tributor to Princeton, of which he is a trustee. The Elizabeth McCor- 
mick fund — founded by him in memory of his little daughter who died 
when a girl of twelve years, and dedicated to the welfare of children 
in the United States — is doing a work of national importance in bring- 
ing open-air schools into existence for the education and benefit of 
weak and defective children. He has given generously to the Y. M. 
C. A. and I personally know of instance after instance where he put 
his hand into his pocket to aid persons overtaken by misfortune." 

Over 20,000 Harvester employees participate in the profits through 
ownership of profit-sharing certificates subscribed for by them, and 
pensions are paid to old and incapacitated employees. An elaborate 
medical and hospital service is maintained with special provision for 
treating victims of tuberculosis; an Employees' Mutual Benefit 
Association is liberally supported by the company, and in every way 
care is taken to insure the comfort and safety of the employees. 

Under Mr. McCormick's inspiration the International is now 
spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in educating American 
farmers, by means of lectures and demonstrations and other means, 
to improve and extend their methods of cultivation and thus become 


more capable and more successful crop-growers. The results are 
proving gratifying beyond expectation. This broadly conceived, 
patriotic work brings no immediate pecuniary reward to the com- 
pany, but it tends to make farming more profitable and therefore more 
attractive, so that in the end there will be a wider demand for farm 
machinery. Also, this commonsense campaign is doing something 
to retard the soaring cost of foodstuff's. 

In his philanthropic endeavours Mr. McCormick is enthusiastically 
supported by Mrs. McCormick, who is active along many civic and 
social welfare lines. She is also warmly interested in woman suffrage 
but has no sympathy with the militant element of the suffrage move- 
ment. Especially in the cause of child welfare has Mrs. McCormick 
enthusiastically enlisted with personal effort and pecuniary support. 

There are few American families who deserve better at the hands 
of their country than the McCormicks. 


WHAT kind of a man is J. P. Morgan?" 
That question is often asked but seldom answered com- 
prehensively; so instead of writing an account of Mr. Mor- 
gan's career, I shall attempt to analyze his character, to present 
a study of his characteristics, to diagnose his ideas, and to dissect his 
ideals. In trying to portray the personality of this international 
figure, I am able to write without the bias that intimate friendship is apt 
to beget, and without any aid or suggestion or countenance from the 
subject himself. Yet I feel thatmy deductions are not open to the charge 
of ignorance of Morgan the man and financier, for circumstances have 
compelled me to follow his activities and delve into his motives and 
quiz his friends and associates for more than a decade. 

Had Mr. Morgan the power he would forbid the writing of one line, 
favourable or unfavourable. But, fortunately, I am under no obliga- 
tion to conform to his wishes. I am free to set down the truth as 
faithfully as my knowledge and impressions permit. 

Let us start off with a few questions, typical of the many constantly 
asked about the heir of the greatest financier America ever produced. 

Is Jack Morgan a second J. P. ? 

He is not. 

Is he a very able man ? 

Able, yes; transcendentally able, no. 

Does he aspire to fill his father s shoes, to sit on the throne set up by his 
lather and rule the financial world ? 

J. P. Morgan the Second is not ambitious to become a great domi- 
nating force over the whole Kingdom of Finance. He possesses neither 
the will nor the qualities to become a Napoleon. He is obsessed by , 
no lust of power. While far from being a figurehead in the activities 
of J. P. Morgan & Company, he is content to let his trusted associates, 
particularly Henry P. Davison, bear the brunt of the actual executive 
work, conscious that it is in capable hands. Mr. Morgan prefers to 
live a rational, unfevered life; for no honours or emoluments would he 
sacrifice his home life, forego the satisfying pleasures of his domestic 
hearth, or permit himself to become more of a money-making ma- 
chine than a man, a husband, a father. He is infinitely more zealous 
that the reputation of his firm shall not be tarnished in the slightest 
degree than he is over winning additional millions. 



J. P. MORGAN 251 

What kind of a personality has he ? 

He is the most undiplomatic man of importance in America. He 
is the product of his heredity, a veritable Bourbon. He would con- 
sider it beneath his dignity, he would regard it as weak, contemptible, 
mugwumpish to go out of his way one inch to placate the public or 
enable it to understand his motives — or even to remove a single false 
conception that any of his acts may have created. 

"He understands the public and can put himself in its place as 
little as you or I understand royalty or could put ourselves in its 
place," one of his associates, a staunch admirer, told me; and this 
unquestionably is the truth. His father did not have to reckon with 
the sovereignty of public opinion during the greater part of his life, 
and his attitude toward the common people cost him, before the 
end, more than can be recorded. His son has not yet learned the 
lesson. Morgan the younger is as punctilious as any man living 
that his acts shall be honest and in every way above reproach, accord- 
ing to his lights; but he has wofully failed to realize that, next to doing 
the right thing, the most important consideration is to do it in the 
right way, that the public may see that it is right. 

He is seriously lacking in statesmanship, a fact that more than once 
has occasioned the financial community, especially its more responsi- 
ble members, grave concern, for Mr. Morgan typifies High Finance 
in the eyes of the people, and when he assumes a cavalier, I-don't- 
care-a-snap-of-my-fingers attitude — as he did, not without provoca- 
tion, when a witness before the Walsh Industrial Relations Commis- 
sion — the effect upon the public, upon public sentiment, upon citizens 
and voters, as well as upon lawmakers, is incalculably injurious not 
merely to financiers as a class, but to the welfare of all. This hauteur 
constitutes perhaps his most regrettable defect 

Is Morgan domineering ? 

No. His apparently lordly attitude toward the public is due to a 
mistaken idea of his place in the financial structure. He does not 
look upon himself as the most dominant figure in the financial world, 
as powerful enough to defy anybody and everybody, as beyond the 
reach of criticism or control; he sees himself merely a private banker 
doing a large, valuable, constructive business, beneficial for the 
development of the nation's resources, honest and straightforward 
beyond cavil, scrupulously fair to his clients — and not accountable to 
any one else, since it is nobody else's business. Modesty thus blends 
with his Bourbonism. 

Is he developing ? 

Yes, responsibility has broadened him, and it may be that experi- 
ence will in time teach him the necessity for cultivating some of the 
qualities he now scorns. More than one event of the last three years 


has been calculated to bring home to him the commonsense wisdom 
of striving honourably to gain the good will of his fellowmen and the 
shortsightedness, not to say folly, of antagonizing and irritating them 
by ignoring or flouting them. If J. P. Morgan would only reveal 
himself to the public as he reveals himself to his friends he could and 
would, without any sacrifice of self-respect, become one of the most 
popular financiers in the country. His intimates find him a large- 
hearted, red-blooded, democratic, considerate, jovial, humane, 
likeable, companionable fellow, not a bit purse-proud or arrogant or 
selfish or small, above doing anything mean, petty, or underhanded. 

"I would trust Jack Morgan behind my back as far as any man 
living," was the ringing declaration of a prominent banker not of the 
Morgan group. "I don't think any amount of money, which would 
be a small consideration, or any amount of prestige, which would be 
a strong consideration, would for a moment tempt him to do what 
he knew would be unfair or unjust. He may not always analyze 
things exactly right; in the very nature of things he could not be ex- 
pected to have a broad social view, for his environment has always 
been that of the most powerful financiers, friends of his own and of 
his father. He is inexperienced in many matters; but he lives up to 
the highest standard he knows." 

Cynics declared, after the 1907 panic, that there was only one man 
in Wall Street that all Wall Street felt could be trusted, the original 
J. P. Morgan. The truth is that the late Mr. Morgan was not the 
most brilliant banker in America or the best judge of financial propo- 
sitions; his analyses and conclusions often were faulty. What en- 
abled him, then, to become the financial Moses of the New World ? 
Simply and solely his unimpeachable trustworthiness, his innate 
fairness, his take advantage of any one. Now the son has 
inherited these same virtues. The strict maintenance of the reputa- 
tion of the house of Morgan is with him a fetich. Rather than lower 
it one iota, he would wipe the dust of the financial district off his feet 

It was widely rumoured that, when his father died, the son began 
by assuming a dictatorial policy toward other financial interests, 
that he adopted his father's brusque manner, and that he felt he was 
privileged to act exactly as the previous head of the house, but that 
he was soon given to understand by those whom he essayed to boss 
that they were willing to cooperate with him, but not to be coerced 
by him, that they would gladly work with him on a basis of equality 
but would have nothing to do with him if he fancied he could lay down 
the law to them. There was very little, if any, truth in this. Mr. 
Morgan's lack of diplomacy was probably responsible for the creation 
of any such impression. 

J. P, MORGAN 253 

The inheritance to which Mr. Morgan fell heir, in 1913, was not all 
roses. The bald truth is that he found himself in a trying position. 
He was bitterly assailed for hurriedly selling important parts of his 
father's art collection for which a special "Morgan Wing" was added 
to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and in the inner circles a good 
deal of indignation was felt when it became known that the person in 
charge of the collection first learned the news of the sale from reporters 
and not from Mr. Morgan himself. This latter fact illustrates Mr. 
Morgan's inherent tactlessness. But the disposal of the priceless 
pictures for which New York City had erected a special home was not 
prompted solely by want of public spirit on the son's part. He did 
not sell them for the fun of the thing. His father in the later years 
of his life had devoted the bulk of his income to buying art objects, 
the upkeep of which entailed inordinate expense. The Morgan will 
revealed that the popular belief that Mr. Morgan was fabulously 
wealthy was wrong. Outside of his collections and other property 
which constituted a liability rather than an asset, he left compara- 
tively little realizable wealth. His security holdings, apart from 
several millions (par value) that were classed as worthless or of nom- 
inal value, aggregated only $19,000,000, while of cash he, of course, 
left only an inconsiderable amount. 

To carry on an international banking firm requires a vast amount of 
capital and, in blunt language, the younger Morgan needed the money 
to run his business, to pay the $3,000,000 inheritance tax, and to take 
care of the various provisions in the will. His sales of pictures, etc., 
were prompted more by necessity than by choice, although I under- 
stand that some of the newspaper comments on his father had stirred 
him into a somewhat resentful frame of mind. It was characteristic 
of his makeup, however, that he allowed his fellow-citizens to inter- 
pret his conduct in any way they saw fit. 

A recent incident is illuminating in this connection. Since the 
European war began J. P. Morgan & Company, as fiscal agents for 
the Allies, have occupied a unique and most profitable position, the 
duties of which, incidentally, it has discharged with conspicuous 
ability — did not Jacob H. Schiff, head of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., Morgan's 
most powerful rivals in private international banking, describe 
Morgan & Co., in a speech on the Liberty Loan, as "the house which 
has done more than any other in this country to make the world 
safe for democracy?" Mr. Morgan, no longer under the necessity of 
counting his dollars, notified the American Academy in Rome that 
he would cancel one dollar of its indebtedness to him (as his father's 
legatee) for every dollar contributed to its endowment fund. He 
also made a handsome money gift recently to Trinity College, Hart- 
ford. His firm's subscription for no less than $50,000,000 Liberty 


Bonds is worth recording. These acts give a truer insight to the 
man than did his disposal of the pictures. 

I want to give the inside explanation of another matter which 
caused widespread criticism, namely, Mr. Morgan's apparently super- 
cilious replies to questions put to him by members of the Walsh 
Commission appointed by Congress. 

It was the presence of moving-picture machines that upset the 
banker's equilibrium. 

While Mr. Morgan, in common with almost every one else, viewed 
Walsh as a notoriety-seeking mountebank, he did not proceed to the 
examination room with battle in his eye. He was prepared to answer 
all legitimate questions and to give not only facts, but, if necessary, 
his views, on matters coming directly within his sphere. The mo- 
ment he took the witness chair, however, "movie" machines began 
to click-click all around him. The nozzle of one machine was levelled 
at him within a few feet of his face, and every time he opened his 
mouth or moved an eyelash the machine opened up full fire. 

This riled Morgan. He felt that he had been summoned, not to 
help the work of the Commission, but to provide a public exhibition, 
to attract sensational attention to Walsh's doings and to give yellow 
newspapers material for illustrated front-page stories. So Morgan 
balked. He considered that the Commission was subjecting him to 
unfair, unnecessary, and undignified treatment and that, therefore, he 
was not obligated to lend himself more than he could avoid to its 
far-from-judicial tactics. 

Hence, when he was asked if he considered #10 a week a proper 
wage for a longshoreman and replied, under pressure, "If that's all 
he can get and he takes it, I should say that is enough," the public was 
not afforded a picture of the real Morgan, but of a citizen righteously 
indignant and angry. Of course, a man of the suavity and broad- 
mindedness of the late J. J. Hill or Charles M. Schwab would have 
retained his poise and avoided giving the public the impression of 
utter indifference to the social welfare of the masses. But how many 
of us would have kept cool and collected under such circumstances? 

Morgan's attitude was at least human — and understandable. 

J. P. Morgan does not know fear. Though detectives are alert 
during these disturbed times it is not uncommon to see Mr. Morgan 
elbowing his way through the curb market melee or swinging along 
Wall Street unescorted and unshadowed. He has braved Germany's 
submarines several times, crossing and re-crossing the Atlantic when- 
ever business has demanded. His fearlessness, in a sense, is respon- 
sible for his indifference to what the masses may think of anything he 
does in the financial or industrial field. 

No man ever gave a finer exhibition of physical courage and chiv- 

J. P. MORGAN 255 

airy than Mr. Morgan when an assassin entered his country home at 
Glen Cove on Long Island and pointed a pistol at him. Instead of 
attempting to save himself, which, according to all accounts, he might 
have done by darting under cover, Mr. Morgan, fearful lest the maniac 
injure his wife or children, sprang at the mouth of the upraised gun 
and, though wounded, grappled with the would-be murderer and 
overpowered him. Like H. C. Frick, under somewhat similar cir- 
cumstances, Morgan kept his head and acted throughout with the. 
utmost bravery. 

Nor could he understand why the newspapers made such a hubbub 
about the incident. When Rudyard Kipling was at death's door 
during a long illness contracted at the height of his fame the news- 
papers published bulletins and columns about the course of his illness 
day by day, but Kipling, on regaining consciousness and rallying 
somewhat, asked innocently: "Did anyone call?" Morgan was a bit 
like that. 

An incident significant of Mr. Morgan's conception of his position 
and personal rights occurred the first time he was able to leave his 
house. As he and a companion approached his yacht, tied up at its 
pier, they saw a photographer in a small boat manifestly waiting to 
snap the banker. He was furious. The idea of a photographer or 
any one else invading his property and infringing upon his privacy was 
to him not only a gross insult, but an utterly unwarranted intrusion 
upon his freedom and liberty as a private individual. Hadn't he an 
indisputable right to be left alone on his own property? He was no 
public character, no statesman, no officeholder elected by public 
vote. He was merely an ordinary person, a private banker. 

When the photographer made overtures to Morgan he was met 
with an oral volley. Meanwhile, Mr. Morgan's companion, seeing 
the effect the encounter was having, began to explain that this man 
was only trying to carry out orders given him by his employer and 
that if he had refused to do his best he would doubtless have lost his 

Just as Mr. Morgan was stepping on board the yacht his hat blew 
into the water. The photographer rescued it, and as he handed it 
up he remarked that, though Mr. Morgan would not let him take a 
picture, he (the photographer) was a good sport "and here's your 

Like a flash Mr. Morgan's anger gave place to a broad smile. He 
saw things in a new light. The photographer became, not an inter- 
loper on an offensive mission, but a fellow-mortal trying to do his best 
to earn his pay. Morgan immediately posed, not once, but several 
times in order that the photographer might get exactly the kind of 
picture he wanted. 


There you have two sides- of the Morgan character — Intolerance 
of public curiosity and interest in him, but, beneath it all, a large heart. 

One more incident will suffice to emphasize the human sympathy 
that lies beneath Morgan's ostensible callousness where the rank and 
file are concerned. Some time ago the newspapers reported how 
money had been stolen from the Morgan offices and a boy arrested 
for the theft. While Mr. Morgan's sense of justice and discipline 
would not allow him to let the offender go unpunished, he at once 
sent for the boy's mother, assured her that the lad would be given a 
chance to make good in another place, and arranged that she should 
not suffer financially. "He could not have treated that mother more 
kindly if she had been his own sister," one of his friends, familiar with 
the facts, informed me. 

Mr. Morgan's beautiful affection for his mother and his unremitting 
attention to her comfort and happiness, as well as his intense fondness 
of his own domestic circle are matters of general knowledge. For his 
father he had — there is only one word to use — reverence. For years 
the son was constantly his father's companion at the exclusive card 
parties, composed of some half-a-score of the aged banker's most 
intimate friends, as well as at other functions, while in business matters 
the same close association prevailed during the last decade. 

Yet when the Morgan mantle fell upon the son the public and the 
press knew little or nothing of his character or calibre. This was 
because Jack Morgan had scrupulously remained in the background. 
He had no thirst for fame. He was not ambitious to become recog- 
nized as the sole factor in guiding the destinies of the house of Morgan. 
Even now Mr. Morgan consistently dodges the limelight. His name 
is rarely attached to any statement; he elects to have Mr. Davison or 
some other partner attend to all matters calling for public announce- 

Banking was in Jack Morgan's blood when he was born, in New 
York, on September 7, 1867. "Morgan" was even then a name 
known the world over. Junius Spencer Morgan, the grandfather, 
comparatively early earned the reputation of being "the best business 
man in Boston," and was selected by George Peabody, the foremost 
American international banker of that day, as a partner. He went 
to London, the Peabody headquarters. When Mr. Peabody died, 
ten years later, the firm of J. S. Morgan & Co. was organized. Its 
head, who was a mathematical genius, soon became recognized as a 
financial giant. He startled conservative Europe by undertaking, 
in 1870, to float a loan of $50,000,000 for the provisional French 
Government, then crumbling to defeat, its Emperor already a prisoner 
of the Germans. Junius Morgan boldly formed a "syndicate," — then 
a novelty to Anglo-Saxon finance — handled the daring transaction with 

J. P. MORGAN 257 

masterly skill, and cleaned up several millions of profit in eighteen 

Meanwhile a second Morgan, John Pierpont, after beginning his 
career with Mr. Peabody's New York correspondents, had become 
the Peabody representative and later formed the firm of Dabney, 
Morgan & Co. In 1871 he joined the powerful Drexels of Philadel- 
phia, the house then becoming known as Drexel, Morgan & Co. Its 
chief rival was Jay Cooke & Co., and when that meteoric firm failed 
in 1873, the Drexel-Morgan house, along with August Belmont, the 
Rothschilds' representative, became the Government's mainstay in 
underwriting and refunding its enormous war debts — using the syn- 
dicate as its chief instrument. In this work J. P. Morgan played an 
active part; but his greatest achievements were to come later, in 
organizing and financing railroad and industrial corporations more 
colossal than any the world had known. 

The third Morgan, "Jack," emerged from Harvard with an A.B. 
degree in 1889, by which time his father was the recognized leader 
of American finance. At college young Morgan, a strong, muscular 
six-footer, had exhibited several inherited traits; he had a will of his 
own, pronounced determination, an admixture of brusqueness and 
jollity, was normally fond of recreation, and possessed an average 
amount of brains. His father lost no time in breaking him into finan- 
cial harness. After a sound preliminary training, under paternal 
tuition, at the New York office of Drexel, Morgan & Co., Jack was 
sent to London to broaden his vision and his experience. Both he 
and his wife — he married Miss Jane Norton Grew in 1890 — "took 
to" English life, made many friends there, and have ever since had a 
hankering for English ways and customs. While in London, where he 
kept also in close touch with the Paris branch of the firm, young 
Morgan developed notably as a banker. He remained there until 
1905. Long before then — in 1894, in fact — he had become a partner 
of J. P. Morgan & Co., "Drexel" having been dropped from the firm 

Curiously, the first notable work undertaken by J. P. the Second, 
within eighteen months of his father's death, was for his English and 
French friends. On his accession he had notified his partners that the 
amalgamation and concentration of banking institutions and re- 
sources had gone far enough and that the house would confine itself 
strictly to attending to its regular business. He outlined a conserva- 
tive policy. 

But he was destined to become the child of Fate — or Fortune. The 
sudden declaration of war by Germany, followed immediately by 
Britain's entrance into the conflict, threw New York into a financial 
panic. The Municipality of New York owed London scores of mil- 


lions and London insisted upon payment in gold. Sterling exchange 
went skyrocketing to $7 — that is, the English pound, normally worth 
#4.65, could not be procured here under #7. There was a deadlock. 
And, as in 1907, the financial community, as well as the New York 
City government, turned to the Corner House, to Morgan, for succour. 
The crisis, as every one knows, was met successfully. 

When the Allies, thrown into confusion by the tragic events in the 
first stages of the war, found themselves in desperate need of hundreds 
of millions' worth of military supplies, they turned to J. P. Morgan 
& Co. as the only concern capable of enabling them to cope with the 
situation. The firm was appointed fiscal agents of both Britain and 
France and was commissioned to purchase all war materials required 
here, its remuneration being one per cent, on everything bought and 
all expenses paid. 

No other banking house ever conducted operations of a magnitude 
such as those undertaken and successfully carried through by J. P.Mor- 
gan & Co. during the last three years, operations not confined to banking, 
not confined to raising for Europe loans approximating #1,500,000,000, 
not confined to importing #1,000,000,000 in gold metal, not confined 
to marketing for the Allies untold millions of American securities, 
not confined to keeping the foreign exchanges on a workable basis, 
but operations entirely outside the purlieu of bankers, the placing of 
contracts for three billion dollars' worth of merchandise of every 
conceivable description, the passing upon the responsibility and ability 
of scores of concerns to turn out satisfactory munitions, the financing 
or extension of numerous enterprises designed to meet the dire needs 
of half-a-dozen European nations in the throes of a life-or-death 

All that Morgan & Co. have done probably will never be known — 
when he lent the Army Department #1,000,000 without security to 
help it out of a hole he was chagrined when the incident found its 
way into the newspapers. In the historic achievement of Morgan 
& Co. during the war Mr. Morgan has been no idle onlooker. On his 
shoulders and on the shoulders of H. P. Davison, T. W. Lamont, and 
E. R. Stettinius have fallen the brunt of the burden. It is a work 
into which Mr. Morgan has thrown his whole heart and soul, for he 
feels that in so doing he has been aiding in the preservation of civiliza- 
tion, in making "the world safe for democracy." 

My opinion is that Mr. Morgan will not remain in active harness 
as long as his father did, but that by and by he will spend a goodly 
part of his time in semi-leisure either here or in England. He is 
interested in various things besides banking, particularly the domestic 
circle. It may astonish most people to learn that he is a student of 
the Bible and constantly quotes passages from it. He is also a de- 

J. P. MORGAN 259 

voted Shakespearian scholar. He likes to read good literature. Then 
he is an enthusiastic yachtsman, the owner of a number of fast boats 
and vice-commodore of the New York Yacht Club. He is more of a 
tennis player than a golfer. 

Incidentally, all unknown to the multitude, Jack Morgan has been 
the inspiration of more than one of the profit-sharing, stock-ownership 
and other schemes for the benefit of the employees of concerns with 
which the house have been financially associated. 

The notion promulgated by muckrakers that J. P. Morgan is a 
rapacious, money-thirsty, unprincipled capitalist, bent only on self- 
aggrandizement regardless of the consequences to others, is false 
through and through. For the prevalence of this idea he himself is 
partly to blame. He could do much to remedy matters by taking a 
leaf out of young John D. Rockefeller's book and adopting a less 
I-don't-care attitude in his dealings with the public, for, after all, we 
are all — rich and poor, high and humble — members of one human 

As a P.S. let me add that another Morgan is in the making, Junius 
Spencer, a Harvard graduate who was learning the ropes in his father's 
firm but, immediately war was declared by President Wilson, became 
a naval gunner. Before then he could have been seen almost any 
night making for the subway with a not-aristocratic pipe in his mouth 
and mayhap carrying a parcel of a size and style that the average 
ten-dollar-a-week bank clerk would scorn to be seen with. He puts 
on no airs. The other fellows in the office claim him as one of them- 

Mr. Morgan's two daughters, Jane Norton and Frances Tracy, 
were recently married. He has another son, Henry Sturgis Morgan. 

America can at least feel that at the head of our greatest banking 
house there is an honest man. 


A MERICA has tardily awakened to the necessity for the do- 

/-\ mestic production of chemicals. One American realized the 

A. .A. opportunities and importance of the chemical industry nearly 

fifty years ago and has produced possibly a greater quantity of heavy 

chemicals than any other man in the world. 

From a humble business employing one helper, William H. Nichols 
has built up an organization owning and operating over thirty chemi- 
cal manufacturing plants in the United States and Canada and em- 
ploying tens of thousands of workmen. The General Chemical 
Company possesses assets of $50,000,000, earns profits of millions 
yearly, pays handsome dividends to its stockholders, and brings to 
America millions of dollars from oversea buyers of its products. 

When William H. Nichols took up the scientific manufacture of 
chemicals there were only a few, relatively small, chemical plants in 
this country, run for the most part by men of little or no technical 
or scientific education in chemistry. Rule-of-thumb, rough-and-ready 
methods were in vogue. How Nichols, as a youth, came to study for 
and enter the chemical industry is worth recording for the benefit of 

"Every young man when he is in the formative stage of his youth 
should consider carefully and seriously what he wants to be or do. 
When I was quite a young lad, before I entered college, I looked over 
the whole situation and tried to study out what field offered the most 
attractive opportunities," Mr. Nichols told me. "I found that in 
the chemical business there were few who had been thoroughly edu- 
cated for it, few who had had scientific training at college. I con- 
cluded that if I took a scientific course and applied myself diligently 
there would be a chance to attain at least a fair measure of success. 
So I enrolled under Dr. John W. Draper and his two sons at New 
York University although the few scientific students of that day were 
looked down upon by students in other branches and considered of 
lower rank. 

"I was very much in earnest. Even as a youth I realized that I 
had only one life to live, and I was determined to make it count as 
much as possible. Any fellow who has a chance to acquire a proper 
education and neglects his opportunity is foolish. 

"As soon as I had graduated, in 1870, I went into business on my 




own account, but as I was not of age — I was only a little over eighteen 
— I could not use my own name. Along with a man named Walter, I 
formed the firm of Walter & Nichols, my father lending me his name 
until I reached twenty-one, when the name was changed to Nichols, 
Walter & Nichols. When more than one pair of hands was needed 
to do a job I had to supply those hands — that is, I had to stop my 
laboratory work and help to turn out the stuff, mostly acids. 

" Walter's untimely death in an accident knocked my entire plans 
on the head, as he had looked after all the office work and all the busi- 
ness end. I was strictly a scientific man, with no practical experience 
in handling business problems. I tried to get along by getting up 
very early every morning, doing the factory and the laboratory work 
in the forenoon, taking a horse car from our place on Newtown Creek 
to New York, and then hustling for orders and attending to other 
matters in the afternoon, returning to clean up the office duties after 
the day's work was over. 

"I soon realized, however, that I could not accomplish very much 
alone, so I engaged the now-celebrated Dr. J. B. F. Herreshoff, at 
what then appeared to be the staggering salary of $2,000, to be my 
factory man. We were producing chiefly sulphuric acid, muriatic 
acid, nitric acid and tin crystals. The veteran rule-of-thumb men in 
the business, my competitors, thought I was crazy to employ a scien- 
tific chemist like Herreshoff, but I had my own ideas about the value 
of a sound education and scientific knowledge. I was not spending 
anything like $2,000 on my own living expenses. I put every penny I 
could, not into expensive clothes or any other luxuries, but into the 
works, and also borrowed additional sums from my father to enable 
me to branch out. For a second time, after I had things going, I was 
suddenly landed in a hole. 

"There was a gentleman's agreement in the trade regarding the 
price of sulphuric acid. Without giving me a hint of warning all the 
others cut their prices, booked up every available order and contract, 
and left me without a single customer. This bolt from a clear sky 
naturally upset everything. 

"Not long after that we were pushing the sale of our sulphuric acid 
when a strange incident occurred." Mr. Nichols stopped, looked 
straight into my face very earnestly and then resumed: "What is the 
secret of success? is a question often asked. 

"Looking back over my life I can now see clearly that there were 
two or three crucial points in it and that in each instance the successful 
outcome was due to the practice of strict honesty, just doing the 
plain, simple, right thing, and refusing to deviate under any circum- 
stances from the ordinary path of fairness and integrity. 

"My experience and observation convince me that great cleverness 


is not necessary; in fact, that smart tricks to take advantage of either 
competitors or customers or the public cannot build up a solid, lasting, 
worth-while success. The Golden Rule is as applicable in business 
as in the church. 

" If any young man will study hard, think hard, keep his eyes always 
open for opportunities, exercise all the foresight he can cultivate by 
painstaking effort, at the same time observing the strictest honesty 
and prudence in all his doings, he cannot prove a failure." 

"What was the sulphuric acid incident you were to tell me about?" 
I asked. 

"When I began making this acid," said Mr. Nichols, "I found that, 
although all the sulphuric acid on the market was labelled as 66 degrees, 
much of it was under strength, usually only 65 degrees. I made 
mine 66 degrees and marked it accordingly. Before long I was waited 
on by a body of my competitors who declared to me: 'You are 
making a fool of yourself. You are only a young man and new at 
the business and perhaps that's why you don't seem to know that you 
are incurring unnecessary expense to yourself by making your sul- 
phuric acid 66 degrees when 65 degrees is just as good/ I told them 
that if I made 65 -degree acid I must put '65 degrees' on the package 
and that if I put '66* on the package I must make 66-degree acid. 
They went off very much dissatisfied and disgruntled. 

"About this time the process of refining oil was discovered and 
orders for sulphuric poured in to us faster than we could fill them. 
But though we were swamped with demands for our product, our 
competitors were not. Of course they set about finding out the reason 
why and they discovered, as the oil refiners had already discovered, 
that 65-degree acid was not strong enough for refining oil, whereas 
66-degree acid met every requirement." 

What the world would have done without electrolytic copper is 
hard to conceive. Moreover, the electrolytic process has enabled 
mining companies to redeem scores of millions of dollars' worth of 
silver and gold which formerly ran to waste in the smelting and re- 
fining of copper. How many people know how the electrolytic pro- 
cess was born ? 

Let William H. Nichols tell the story. 

"I was sitting in my office one day when a man named Davis came 
in.with a piece of ore which he asked me to examine. Having studied 
metallurgy, I saw it was sulphide of iron containing copper pyrites. 
'Are you interested?' he asked. 'Yes,' I replied. 'Thank heaven,' 
he said, 'for I have been to every other chemical works and couldn't 
interest any of them in it.' 

"We bought his mine, at Capelton, across the Canadian border. 
We turned our attention to utilizing our by-product of copper cinder 


and Dr. Herreshoff invented a water-jacket furnace for smelting it 
into copper matte. This process was very successful and we sent to 
England and Wales, where most of the refining had been done, to see 
if we could not introduce our new style of furnace there at Swansea. 
They ridiculed us, asking if we, who had been smelting copper for a 
year, imagined we could do it better than they could do it after 
200 years' experience. To-day we turn out more copper in a month 
than they do in Swansea in a year. 

"The copper industry at that time did not know how to analyze 
copper correctly. Many laboratories had wrestled with the problem 
and as we were now interested in copper we also took it up. Thanks 
chiefly to Herreshoff, we evolved what we called the electrolytic 
process, which, as every one now knows, not only reveals the exact 
amount of copper in matte or in anything else, but liberates all the 
gold and silver that used to be thrown away and produces a quality 
of copper that has made possible the great advance in electricity." 

As notable progress was made in the copper field as in the chemical 
field by Dr. Nichols and his associates. Their revolutionary pro- 
cesses for smelting, refining, and analyzing the metal brought them a 
great deal of custom from existing mines. They thus became impor- 
tant factors in the selling of the finished product. 

The entrance of the Nichols interests into the refining of copper 
came about in a peculiar way. They had been content before to dis- 
pose of their product in the form of matte and had not considered the 
advisability of invading the smelting branch of the business. Curi- 
ously, this eventful step in Mr. Nichols's career was likewise the result 
of his refusal to join others in what he regarded as unfair or unwise 

One day a very influential New York magnate beckoned to Mr. 
Nichols in a downtown club and rather emphatically told him: "You 
are not charging enough for your copper." Mr. Nichols replied that 
the price he was charging satisfied him. "You are not charging the 
price others are getting," the magnate declared and after some further 
parley presented this ultimatum: "I see I will have to speak to you 
rather strongly. We have an agreement on the price of copper and 
unless you will agree to adhere to this price I will have to tell you, 
very regretfully, that I will not be able to refine any more of your 

The gentlemen had miscalculated the timbre and the temperament 
of William H. Nichols. "You have a perfect right to say you will do 
no more refining for me," he replied, "but you haven't the slightest 
right to tell me what I must charge for my copper. I won't ask you 
to refine another pound." 

Dr. Nichols walked over to the newly-installed telephone, called 


Herreshoff, told him to come over to the office and, on his way, to 
think about plans for building a little copper refinery. Before the 
sun went down they had designed a modest refinery on lines which 
are being followed to this day. 

From that conversation sprang the Nichols Copper Refining busi- 
ness which is now running at the rate of 500,000,000 pounds of copper 

"You are not a believer, then, in gentlemen's price-fixing agree- 
ments ?" I asked. 

"No. I had had my lesson at the very outstart of my business 
career in price agreements and even were there no law against it you 
could not drag me into a price-fixing agreement of any kind. I don't 
think such agreements are wise. It is better for each one to use his 
own brains and exercise his own intelligence and commonsense in 
conducting business in his own way. It is better also for the public." 

So rapidly did the Nichols copper activities expand that they over- 
shadowed the original chemical enterprise as the latter had ceased 
to be pushed ahead with the old-time vigour. But Dr. Nichols, at 
heart a chemist and a scientist, determined, while enjoying the solitude 
and leisure of a vacation at his place in The Thousand Islands, to 
formulate plans that would enable him to do full justice in the sphere 
which, as a lad, he had chosen. 

The General Chemical Company was then conceived. So, too, was 
the Nichols jCopper Company. By separating his chemical and his 
copper interests, organizations could be built up to handle both with 
greater vigour, greater efficiency, and on a greater scale. The plan 
has worked out admirably. 

The General Chemical Company is the largest of its kind here or 
abroad. Its products are heavy chemicals; fuming sulphuric, muria- 
tic, and nitric acids, sodas of many varieties including sulphite, bisul- 
phite, and phosphates, as well as alum in vast quantity. Chemicals 
enter into the very warp and woof of our industrial fabric — into tex- 
tiles, silk, paper, water filtration, and every industry. 

Mr. Nichols was the first in this country to tackle the manufacture 
of aniline oils. During a visit to Germany, where coal-tar dyes were 
being manufactured in large quantity, he decided to experiment, on 
his return home, but was assured by his German friends that by- 
products of American coke ovens could not be utilized for this pur- 
pose, as our coal was not of the right kind. Mr. Nichols persisted, 
and built a plant which produced a thousand tons a year of excellent 
aniline oil. But the Germans cut the price so drastically that it was 
impossible to compete with them. Congress did not then realize the 
astuteness and far-sightedness of the German manoeuvre. Germany 
well knew that no stable smokeless powder could be made without 


the product of an aniline oil plant. The deficiency has since been well 
remedied, America having become not only self-supporting, but an 
exporter of aniline oil and other chemicals won from by-products of 

Mr. Nichols is a staunch believer in cooperation, not with competi- 
tors, but with his own workers. Many of his men have been with 
him a full generation — some for almost forty years. Many years ago 
he became a pioneer in sharing profits with his employees. In 1916 
over $1,500,000 was distributed as "extra compensation to workmen 
and staff based upon profits. " Mr. Nichols's attitude toward workers 
has always been inspired as much by his sense of humanity, his belief 
in the essential brotherhood of man, as by cool, calculating business 
considerations, although, of course, his experience has taught him, as . 
it has taught other employers, that it is profitable to treat employees 
generously and thoughtfully. A small corps of picked men do noth- 
ing but look after the well-being of the workers. 

All the activities for betterment of the condition of the workers 
are handled by the men themselves. They make their own rules and 
by-laws for their associations, conduct their own clubs, arrange their 
own interworks baseball, football, and other matches. Boxing bouts 
and wrestling contests between champions in the different plants 
excite the keenest of interest. The same spirit of healthy, stimulating 
rivalry enters into the constant campaign for greater safety. The 
company awards annually a very substantial sum to the force which 
keeps its plant going with the least loss of time through accidents — 
it was won in 1917 by a Canadian plant and the men donated a large 
part of the money prize to a national war relief fund. The spirit of 
patriotism is inculcated consistently into all the workmen, who salute 
each morning the Stars and Stripes which floats over every plant of 
the General Chemical Company. 

His kindness to his men once placed Dr. Nichols in a predicament 
which caused him deep mortification. The head of one of the con- 
cern's largest customers came to him and complained that he had 
been systematically cheated by short-weighing of carboys containing 
acid. Dr. Nichols could not believe the allegation, but on going to 
the consumer's plant fifty carboys were weighed and each was found 
ten pounds short. He promised to make an immediate investigation. 

An Irishman was pointed out to Dr. Nichols as the man responsible 
for seeing that every carboy contained the proper quantity of acid. 
This employee Dr. Nichols would have trusted with his own money. 
But, when questioned, he coloured up and stammered. Finally he 
blurted out: 

"Mr. Nichols, the boys is very fond of you and we wanted to help 


That anecdote will obviate the necessity for entering into details of 
all that the General Chemical and the Nichols Copper Company do 
for their workers. 

There are some Americans better known abroad than among their 
own countrymen. These are men of real achievement, men who 
have accomplished things of international importance but who have 
not advertised themselves by brass-band methods. Dr. Nichols is 
such a man. I recently read in a French paper a reference to him as 
"the scientist and chemist known all over the world." And it is 
even so. Honours have been conferred upon him by royalty, by 
great scientific and chemical organizations, and by universities. He 
was elected president, in 191 2, of the International Congress of 
Applied Chemistry, the largest congress of chemistry in the world, 
while the Society of Chemical Industry of Great Britain paid him a 
similar honour. He is a charter member of the American Chemical 
Society which now has 9,000 members in New York and which was 
founded with only fifty members, of which only two others survive. 
King Emmanuel decorated him with the Order of Commendatore 
of the Crown of Italy, an honour enjoyed by only one or two other 
Americans. He is an honorary LL.D. of Lafayette College and an 
Sc.D. of Columbia University. 

Unlike many busy business leaders, Dr. Nichols has found time to 
render many years of constructive service in church and educational 
fields. As chairman of the trustees of the Clinton Avenue Congre- 
gational Church of Brooklyn and as president of the Congregational 
Church Extension Society, he has been an invaluable force in forward- 
ing religious and benevolent movements. The Polytechnic Institute 
of Brooklyn, from which Mr. Nichols graduated in 1868 — he was 
born in Brooklyn on January 9, 1852 — owes its present robustness to 
him more than to any other individual. It was a small, struggling, 
moribund organization when he accepted the chairmanship, whereas 
it now has between 800 and 900 students and is preparing to double 
its capacity. Also, it is now self-supporting. 

Mr. Nichols began life with the advantages of a superb physique 
inherited from ancestors first of Norman and then English stock 
until the earliest days of America, an excellent home training from a 
Quaker mother and a well-to-do father of high business standing and 
a thorough education. On leaving Brooklyn "Poly." he entered 
Cornell, then just founded as a semi-military institution. Young 
Nichols soon became captain of a company of students but was im- 
plicated in the hazing of a youth for ungentlemanly conduct. The 
authorities offered him full immunity if he would reveal the names of 
the others taking part, a suggestion he indignantly scorned. He was 
expelled, of course, but the train on which he departed was held until 


every student of the university could file past and shake hands with 

Dr. Nichols married Miss Hannah W. Bensel in 1873 and they 
have a daughter, Mrs. M. O. Forster of London, and two sons who 
are making their mark in the industrial world. William H. Nichols, 
Jr., is president of the General Chemical Company (his father being 
now chairman of the Board) while C. Walter Nichols is president of 
the Nichols Copper Company. In handling men and in conducting 
business, both are exhibiting inherited qualities of generalship. 


JOHN H. PATTERSON devotes his life to building cash regis- 
ters and making workers happy. 
Few employers who have made millions have chosen to 
spend the best part of these millions on their own employees. Many 
build themselves palaces, line them with costly pictures and bric-a- 
brac, spend money lavishly and ostentatiously for their own diversion, 
doing little for the benefit of any one but themselves. Even philan- 
thropically inclined millionaires have rarely given first consideration 
to those who helped them to make their riches. It is more spectacular 
to build halls, to proclaim large gifts to this or that organization, to 
strut into the limelight and do something calculated to win plaudits 
from the public than to do worth-while things inside one's own fac- 
tory and give one's self to the daily task of brightening the lives of 
labourers, artisans, stenographers, and other unromantic employees. 

John H. Patterson has chosen the more prosaic course. He has 
made of a factory and its environment a thing of beauty. He has 
put joy into work. He has made the earning of a living harmonize 
with the earning of happiness. 

The workshop of the National Cash Register Company, at Dayton, 
O., is a glass palace flooded with light. Through its thousands of 
windows the workers can feast their eyes on exquisite views. The air 
throughout all the buildings is changed every fifteen minutes. Hun- 
dreds of shower baths are provided, and every worker is allowed to 
enjoy them in the company's time. Of course, there is a hospital 
with a doctor and trained nurses in attendance; employees receive 
electric massage treatment free of cost; there are numerous rest rooms 
for women employees. To avoid the overcrowding of street cars and 
elevators and to save the women from having to mingle unceremo- 
niously with the men, the former are allowed to start work half-an-hour 
after the men and to finish fifteen minutes before them. At ten every 
forenoon and at three every afternoon recesses are granted the women 
workers. The commodious dining rooms furnish midday meals at 
cost and an orchestra regales the diners with sprightly music. 

Every noon hour a moving picture or other entertainment is pro- 
vided in a hall which seats 1,250, and here those who bring their own 
lunches may sit and eat while enjoying the pictures, the music, and, 
occasionally, short talks. The men are given the privilege of smoking. 




By an arrangement with high schools and colleges, vocation training 
is provided promising youths. 

Not one acre of Mr. Patterson's extensive estate, Hills and Dales, 
is reserved for his exclusive use; every square yard of it is thrown wide 
open to his employees and to the public. There is not a fence or a 
locked gate on the whole place. Instead, it is dotted with quaint, 
rustic camps where all sorts of paraphernalia is provided free for 
picnic parties — cooking utensils, tables, benches, even flour and waffle 
machines and distilled water. 

A golf course, tennis courts, baseball field, and other facilities for 
recreation are provided, while a large club house permits of dances 
being held on Saturday evenings and all sorts of concerts, lectures, 
and entertainments throughout the week. There is another club 
house in the city for the use of employees, and here largely attended 
educational classes are held in the winter months. 

Mr. Patterson is a sunshine worshipper. He enjoys nature — enjoys 
it so much that he wants every one around him to enjoy it also. 

Any worker who offers a feasible suggestion for improving anything 
at the factory or elsewhere is rewarded, "Suggestion Boxes" having 
been in use for many years. 

When he started, over twenty years ago, to treat workers like 
human beings, other employers called him a fool, a fanatic, a socialist, 
a dreamer. They warned him that coddling labour would bring him 
nothing but discontent and disaster, but he contended that, unless 
employers showed the working people greater consideration, grave 
trouble would arise sooner or later. 

How he came to adopt the revolutionary plan of cooperating with 
instead of coercing labour is interesting. 

His action was originally prompted more by business necessity 
than by sentiment. Previously he had followed the universal rule of 
getting from his employees the greatest amount of work for the least 
amount of money, and they had reciprocated by giving the least 
amount of work for the greatest amount of money they could obtain. 

Let us first trace briefly the record of John H. Patterson and the 
making of cash registers before this turning point was reached. 

There were no cash registers when John Henry Patterson was born 
— December 13, 1844. His forbears were Scots-Irish, the first to 
come to America (about 1728) having been his great-grandfather, 
whose son fought as a colonel in the Revolutionary War, founded the 
city of Lexington, Ky., became one of the three original owners of the 
land now covered by Cincinnati, and finally located on a 2,000-acre 
farm near Dayton. Here John Henry was born, almost on the spot 
now occupied by the National Cash Register Company. As a lad, 
one of eight children, he had to work hard on the farm. He received 


a good education, first in the Dayton schools and later at Miami 
University and Dartmouth College, where he graduated B.A. in 1867, 
having previously served in the Civil War as a Hundred Day Man, 
although then only a stripling. 

Farm labour had little attraction for the Bachelor of Arts. Com- 
merce appealed to him most, but he could not pick and choose jobs. 
Collecting tolls on the Miami & Erie Canal, on duty night and day, 
Sundays and holidays, was the best he could land. But this was not 
commerce. He wanted to buy and sell things. Having saved a 
little money, he succeeded in borrowing a little more and set up as a 
retail coal dealer in Dayton. From selling coal he gravitated to 
mining coal and iron ore, in partnership with his brother, Frank, in 
Jackson County, some eighty miles from Dayton. 

To enable their miners to obtain supplies, the Pattersons, in con- 
junction with two other mining concerns, opened a store. Business 
was plentiful but profits were nil. At the end of two years the store 
had not netted a cent, notwithstanding that all goods were supposed 
to be sold on a reasonable margin of profit. There was a leak some- 

From his militant grandfather, who by profession was a civil en- 
gineer, Mr. Patterson had inherited a mania for doing things with 
scrupulous accuracy and precision; nothing slipshod, nothing faulty, 
nothing careless could be tolerated. Everything must be done just 
so. The mysterious mismanagement of the store worried him. It 
must be run down and eliminated. 

Hearing that a merchant in Dayton had invented a contrivance to 
keep a record of all sales, Mr. Patterson immediately telegraphed for 
two of the novel machines. The idea of the cash register had taken 
birth in 1879, m tne brain of Jacob Ritty, a Dayton merchant who, 
suffering from a breakdown due to overwork and worry in attempting 
to keep tabs on the details of his business, had started on a voyage to 
Europe. While in the engine room of the ship one day, he noticed a 
device that recorded the number of revolutions of the propeller shaft. 
Why not construct a machine that would record each coin put in the 
till? Hurrying back, he set to work with his brother, a skilled me- 
chanic, and evolved the first cash register. 

Mr. Patterson's was the first order filled. Crude and clumsy though 
it was, the machine immediately turned the store's loss into a sub- 
stantial profit. Mr. Patterson's commercial instinct told him that 
the new invention had unlimited possibilities. "What is good for 
our store is good for every store in the world," he told himself. At 
the first opportunity he went to Dayton, investigated the situation 
thoroughly and, although only a few machines had been turned out, 
he was so certain of the outlook that in 1884 he bought out the Ritty 


business and changed the name from the National Manufacturing 
Company to the National Cash Register Company. 

The acorn did not at once grow into an oak. Troubles and obsta- 
cles were met at every turn. Construction of the cash registers de- 
manded highly skilled and scrupulously careful workmanship of a 
novel kind. It was difficult first to teach the workers and then to 
retain them, as their expert services were sought by others. The 
factory was located in an unsavoury section of Dayton called Slider- 
town — everybody and everything on the down grade had a habit of 
sliding into this section. To work at "The Cash" did not bring a* 
high social rating; in plain language, the better class of young men 
and particularly young women preferred to earn a living in more 
respectable surroundings. 

John H. Patterson was partly to blame for this unsatisfactory state 
of affairs. He was not then a model employer. He was neither 
better nor worse than other factory owners. His interest in his 
employees was confined to what he could get out of them. And they 
repaid him in kind. Poor working conditions begot a poor product. 

So bad, indeed, did things become that in one year $50,000 worth 
of machines was thrown back on the hands of the company as faulty. 

Then John H. Patterson woke up. 

He experienced not only a change of viewpoint, but he underwent a 
change of heart. Adversity had taught him humanity. Why should 
workers treat him with more consideration than he was treating them ? 
Why should they interest themselves in his welfare if he was not in- 
terested in theirs? He would adopt a new policy. Also, he installed 
his own desk in the centre of the factory floor. 

With this new spirit in his heart, he went to the factory to study 
conditions. He saw a woman engaged, as he thought, in mixing 
glue in a very unscientific way. He spoke to her. "It's not glue, 
it's coffee," she told him. Leavings from the previous day were 
being reconcocted. 

Mr. Patterson immediately ordered the manager to arrange to have 
the women supplied with good coffee every day. He next looked 
around for other things needing correction. Not noticing any pro- 
vision for the proper serving of the coffee, he summoned the manager, 
who gave him a dozen reasons why the factory could not be turned 
into a coffee house. Mr. Patterson ordered him to rent a house across 
the street for the purpose. Again there was delay. This time the 
manager and his assistants were told that dismissal would follow 
were the reform not instituted forthwith. 

The serving of the coffee had an instantaneous effect upon the out- 
put of the women. Patterson learned that kindness paid in dollars 
as well as in disposition. From that day on he never wavered in his 


determination to improve the lot of his people. One thoughtful 
innovation after another was introduced and a systematic effort was 
made to raise the quality and tone of the working force. 

Better workmanship and better product brought increased business. 
Sales increased from a few thousand a year to several score thousands. 
Larger buildings became necessary. Slidertown had been cleaned up 
somewhat under Mr. Patterson's influence, but it was still no Newport 
or Tuxedo. Mr. Patterson next bought up much of the property 
in the neighbourhood and resolved to spend both money and time in 
revolutionizing the whole neighbourhood. 

Most important of all, he engaged the leading firm of architects 
in America to design a factory building which would be the very an- 
tithesis of the ordinary factory. He wanted it to contain every con- 
ceivable appointment conducive to the comfort and safety of the 
workers. He wanted, also, halls for noonday entertainment, for the 
holding of classes, for illustrated lessons and lectures on the different 
phases of manufacturing the cash register, and on salesmanship. 

When the glass and steel palace began to be erected Dayton shook 
its head. Among other things, Patterson was told that the boys of 
Slidertown would not leave one whole window overnight, that new 
glass would cost him more than his profits. Patterson took the boys 
in hand and began to transform embryonic gangsters into young 
gardeners and young gentlemen. The boys were given individual 
gardens, received instruction from a head gardener, were shown how 
to organize themselves into a stock company, were inspired to interest 
themselves in the work, received prizes and, at the end of the year, 
were paid dividends from products sold. The company was run en- 
tirely by the boys themselves. Also, a club was formed to send city 
lads to work on farms during summer vacations. This solved the 
window-breaking problem — and solved, also, problems of more vital 
importance to the boys and to society. 

Patterson's "coddling" of labour was bitterly resented by other 
employers. They reasoned that the best type of workers would prefer 
to secure positions with the Cash Register Company. They also 
feared that labour would become discontented, not to say obstreper- 
ous. Still he went ahead, convinced that he was on the right track and 
that one day his example would have to be followed. The more 
he did for the happiness of those around him the more fun he got out 
of it. 

His enormous new plant, however, was costing a mint of money. 
So were grounds he had bought for the use of his workers and others. 
The rapid expansion of his business — in two years he sold as many 
machines as he had sold in the previous twenty-two years — necessi- 
tated the tying up of extensive capital. 


Like a thunderbolt came the announcement from the bankers that 
he must pay off loans. Not a dollar could he obtain from any bank 
in Dayton. This, Patterson's critics and enemies chuckled, would 
put a quietus to his welfare capers. 

It almost did. Patterson, however, was a born fighter. He also 
was a philosopher. " Thrice armed is he who hath his quarrel just," 
he reassured himself. It was a time of tight money, and outside banks 
were indifferent or worse. Finally, however, a New England finan- 
cier sent a representative to Dayton to analyze conditions. He 
learned the cause of the trouble and he learned also that the Patterson 
brothers were men of unimpeachable character, of indefatigable in- 
dustry, of indomitable will, and that they were conducting a growing, 
profitable business. Ail this appealed to him and he offered to lend 
them several times the amount they had asked. Had the character 
of the Pattersons not withstood the searching test, the history of the 
National Cash Register Company might have ended disastrously. 

Mr. Patterson's activities on behalf of his employees multiplied. 
Slidertown began to blossom. Besides the boy club gardeners, 
grown-ups in the neighbourhood became so greatly enamoured of the 
beautiful that, under consistent encouragement, they began to spruce 
up their homes and to surround them with flowers and lawns. 

Mr. Patterson also worked laboriously and against much discour- 
agement to arouse the citizens of Dayton to make of it "The City 
Beautiful." He threw himself enthusiastically into reforming the 
administration of the city, then politics-ridden, not to say corrupted. 
Like most reformers, he made enemies. 

Nor did he wholly escape the trouble with workers which other 
employers had predicted. During a period of acute labour unrest 
throughout the country, whisperings began to be heard that a section 
of the Cash Register workmen were to strike. Mr. Patterson's kind- 
ness had been misinterpreted as weakness. Some of the men wanted 
to become masters of the establishment. They imagined they could 
do as they pleased, that Mr. Patterson would submit to anything. 
He had made one mistake in the treatment of his workers; some 
of the privileges, such as taking baths and attending certain of the 
entertainments provided, were made compulsory. This form of 
paternalism, naturally, was resented. Mr. Patterson, however, saw 
his mistake and rectified it. 

On learning that a strike was to be called by a part of the workmen, 
he assembled the whole force, explained that he understood some of 
them were dissatisfied, told them he himself was not wholly pleased 
with the way things were going, and announced that a rest would 
probably do them and him good. He closed the whole works without 
intimating when they would be re-opened and then went travelling. 


At first the prospective strikers were jubilant over their "victory." 
Within a fortnight, however, other classes of employees began to 
criticise the malcontents. Another week passed, and still no intima- 
tion of re-opening. Inquiries began to be made as to when work 
would be resumed. No comforting information was forthcoming. 
At the end of a month things began to be made unpleasant for those 
responsible for the shut-down. Petitions began to be sent Mr. 
Patterson to come back and open the gates. But not until two months 
had passed did he announce that he would return to Dayton although 
he let it be known that he had been invited to locate his works at other 
more convenient points. 

The whole city prepared to give Mr. Patterson a welcome home with 
brass bands, public receptions, complimentary dinners, and laudatory 
speeches. Sober reflection had convinced the citizens that Dayton 
could not afford to lose Patterson. 

He would have none of their joyful reception. Instead, he replied 
by outlining a long list of things Dayton citizens ought to do to make 
their city more attractive, more efficient, and more healthful. 

He re-opened the works and there was not another murmur of a 
strike, and since then he has had no trouble with labour. The true 
worth of his work for his employees and for Dayton was grasped 
during the period there were fears that Dayton would lose both him 
and his plant, thus emptying thousands of pay envelopes weekly. 

When operations were resumed the demand for National Cash 
Registers increased enormously. Mr. Patterson's system of training 
salesmen was bearing fruit. Every employee was filled with ambition 
to do his or her best. National Registers, pushed with redoubled 
energy, were driving others from the field. The enthusiasm of the 
salesmen sometimes outran their discretion. 

When the national mania for trust busting swept across the land 
the Government did not overlook the National Cash Register Com- 
pany. Was it not rapidly becoming almost a monopoly ? Patterson's 
reply to that was that he owned the basic patents for cash registers 
and that he was entitled to fight competitors both legally and com- 
mercially. Fight them he did without mercy. Into the rights and 
wrongs of the Government's prosecution I cannot here enter. A lower 
court sentenced a number of the officers and responsible employees of 
the company to a year's imprisonment, but this verdict was quashed 
by the higher court. The Government did not drop the matter, 
but started to prosecute the company under the civil section of the 
Sherman Law, and rather than continue at loggerheads with the 
Administration for another year or two, demoralizing the whole or- 
ganization, Mr. Patterson was induced to plead guilty to the technical 
charge of "conspiring" to build up a monopoly, a business policy 


which Mr. Patterson had all along contended he was entitled to follow 
by reason of his exclusive patent rights. 

Mr. Patterson declared to me that only the consciousness that he 
was doing constructive work and setting an example to other em- 
ployers in the treatment of workmen impelled him to struggle on 
against both labour and governmental obstacles after he had all the 
money he needed for his personal and family requirements. 

To the American public the crowning achievement of John H. 
Patterson was that which won him the title "The Saviour of Day- 
ton," on that memorable day and night of March 25-26, 1913, when 
the greater part of the city was floodswept and laid under as much as 
seventeen feet of water. 

It was Patterson who, hours before the flood came, by telephone, 
by telegraph, by horseback, by automobile, by foot messenger, by 
every means of communication that could be impressed, aroused the 
whole city to its impending danger and gave instructions how to pre- 
pare for the coming avalanche of water. It was Patterson, too, who 
summoned his executive and other force to Industrial Hall, mounted 
the stage, and showing his famous pyramidical chart illustrating the 
organization of the company, announced: "I declare the National 
Cash Register Company out of commission and I proclaim the Citi- 
zens' Relief Association. ,, With a piece of charcoal he sketched a dia- 
gram of the Relief Association, naming a head for each division of the 
work and instructing them how to proceed. 

From the Patterson factory came rafts and boats — constructed of 
materials taken from his immense lumber yards — at the rate of one 
every seven minutes. 

By common assent Patterson became the acknowledged dictator of 
the whole rescue work. Never did military generals direct forces 
with more skill, with more rapidity, or to more effect. So brilliantly 
did he command that when General Wood, commander of the U. S. 
Army, and Secretary of War Garrison rushed to the scene and viewed 
the functioning of the Patterson emergency machine they announced: 
"We can do nothing beyond what you are doing." 

A faint glimmer of what Dayton underwent may be derived from 
the fact that in one improvised maternity hospital twenty-nine chil- 
dren were born during that terrible night. 

To describe John H. Patterson's personality would require pages. 
His business methods and his whole mode of life are novel. His brain 
works night and day. At his bedside are pencil and pad on which 
he commits ideas the instant they enter his head. To his secretary 
he dictates dozens of orders every morning to be transmitted to heads 
of different departments. These orders are pasted on large charts, 
one for each department, and not until an instruction has been carried 


out is a broad red line drawn through it. By turning the charts, con- 
structed like swinging doors, Mr. Patterson can see at a glance any 
order that has not been obeyed. I noticed one without a red line 
although it dated back several months. It read: "Make nine-hole 
golf course into eighteen-hole golf course." I remarked upon it. 

"That is now being done," I was informed — an eighteen-hole golf 
course for the use primarily of Mr. Patterson's employees. 

He is an originator and an admirer of mottoes and his whole plant 
is hung with placards of wisdom and inspiration. These are fre- 
quently changed. 

Mr.Patterson rises regularly at 6:30, indulges in a glass of hot water 
for breakfast, works like a battering ram until noon, lunches on some 
fruit or vegetables, takes a nap for a couple of hours, and spends the 
remainder of the day as his fancy dictates. For dinner he eats nuts, 
fruits, and vegetables. For years he has not tasted meat or fish or 
fowl. His home is a quaint, unpretentious, old-fashioned, delightful 
place on the top of a hill overlooking the plant and was formerly owned 
by his ancestors. He has a grown-up son and daughter, who are both 
interested in their father's activities. Until her recent marriage, 
the daughter had an office at the factory and directed the welfare 
work of the women's department. 

Almost singlehanded John H. Patterson, following the flood, 
reorganized the civic administration of Dayton. The City Manager 
plan instituted there has been notably successful — but how long 
politics and politicians can be held at arm's length is a question. One 
indisputable fact is that Dayton is now better governed than ever 
before and that the taxpayers receive larger value for their money. 
Mr. Patterson, diplomatically, does not try to dominate or domineer 
the administration, having learned by experience that able-bodied 
citizens of a free republic abhor even the most benevolent efforts of 
that kind. Nevertheless his influence, his example, and his ideals 
have been a potent factor in elevating the conduct of the city's affairs. 
Indeed, he has been the thinker and inspirer in all such activities as 
industrial welfare, public recreation, and cooperative health promo- 
tion. To a seer's vision he has wedded the qualities of a doer; his 
gift of imagination is equalled only by his energy and get-it-doneness. 
His inborn masterfulness, at times resented by others in earlier days, 
has been mellowed by experience. 

"I feel," he told me, "that I have only a few more years to live 
and my main object in life now is to influence others, especially em- 
ployers, to have more consideration for their workers, for after he has 
a competence, money can do nothing satisfying for a man's own wants. 
It is useful only in enabling him to do good. I would rather spend 
money to bring my fellow-beings out into the open, into God's sun- 


shine, and enable them to enjoy the beauties of nature than hoard 
great wealth for my children." 

I cannot even touch upon the extent of the National Cash Register 
Company's business, with its branches and agents in every part of 
the world, except to mention that it employs more than 10,000 people 
thoughout the world, produces some 60,000 machines per annum, 
and has sold more than 1,800,000 registers to merchants in every 
civilized country in the world. 

I asked Mr. Patterson for some suggestions for the attainment of 
success, and this is what he laid down: 

"Learn to overcome difficulties while young. The farm is the 
best school, for it teaches the fundamentals of success, namely: 

"1. Hard work. 

"2. Commonsense. 

"3. Good habits. 

"4. Practical experience. 

"5. The value of a dollar." 


ONLY one man ever refused a partnership in J. P. Morgan & 
The partnership was offered the first time the late Mr. 
Morgan saw the man. It came after only a few moments' conversa- 
tion on a non-business subject. 

More extraordinary still, the man had never had a day's banking 

Mr. Morgan's engagement of H. P. Davison, a banker, and known 
to him personally, was dramatic enough; but his proffer of a partner- 
ship to George W. Perkins, as here described for the first time, consti- 
tutes perhaps the most dramatic episode in the annals of high finance. 

Mr. Perkins, then a vice-president of the New York Life Insurance 
Company, had been named a member of the Palisades Park Commis- 
sion and wanted to raise money. A Morgan partner had several times 
asked Mr. Perkins to come into the office and meet Mr. Morgan, and 
about this time he again suggested an introduction. Mr. Perkins, 
with an eye to "touching" the banker for a contribution, agreed. Mr. 
Morgan greeted him in his private office, separated from the office of 
his partners merely by a glass partition. 

Mr. Perkins at once unfolded his scheme, told the banker that they 
wanted to raise $125,000 and that Mr. Morgan's name among the 
contributors would facilitate the raising of the fund. 

"I will give you $25,000," Mr. Morgan replied without cavil. 

Mr. Perkins thanked him cordially — and asked if Mr. Morgan could 
suggest others that might be approached. 

"Look here," Mr. Morgan immediately countered, "I will give 
you the whole $125,000 if you will do something for me." 

Astonished, Mr. Perkins stammered: "There is nothing I can do 
for you, Mr. Morgan." 

"Yes, there is. You can turn round and take that desk and go to 
work," said Mr. Morgan very emphatically as he pointed to a large 
desk at the other side of the glass partition. 

Mr. Perkins did not comprehend. He looked at Mr. Morgan 

"I mean, come in here as a partner," explained Mr. Morgan. 

Mr. Perkins, to Mr. Morgan's great astonishment — for he was not 
in the habit of having young financiers refuse to join his cabinet — 




replied: "I can't do that. I am with the New York Life and must 
spend my days there." 

It was not until nearly a year after that Mr. Morgan finally induced 
Mr. Perkins to join the firm, and then Mr. Perkins consented only on 
condition that he be allowed to retain his position with the New York 

Knowing this story, I asked Mr. Perkins why he did not at once 
grasp the opportunity to become a member of the greatest inter- 
national banking house in the country, a position regarded as the 
Ultima Thule of American banking. 

"Because I never have been in this world merely to make money," 
replied Mr. Perkins in a tone that suggested there should be no amaze- 
ment over his action. "I early learned that any man who starts out 
simply to make money never gets very far, for he will ruin his health, 
or sacrifice his friends, or drive so hard that there is nothing in it. I 
was brought up in the life insurance business. It is not a charitable 
institution, but it is a business in which you deal, with human beings 
and where you are doing something for people. You serve in a cause 
which you believe to be helpful to other people. 

"I had worked up from office-boy to the highest salaried insurance 
position in the world — $75,000. My heart was in the work. I was 
striving with all my might to put the New York Life in the premier 
place among the insurance companies of the world. I had spent 
much time in Europe to induce different countries to give us a license 
to do business there and we had succeeded in gaining admittance 
to every civilized country on the face of the earth. It was a big, 
difficult, but fascinating task, and I did not want to give it up even 
for the coveted honour and emolument of a partnership in J. P. 

Mr. Morgan knew what he was doing when he approached Mr. 
Perkins, for, although they had never met, New York's leading banker 
was well aware that a new genius had invaded the financial world. 
Mr. Perkins, in addition to having revolutionized the conduct of the 
life-insurance business, had demonstrated unwonted ability as a 
financier. Confronted in Russia with apparently insuperable bar- 
riers, Mr. Perkins resourcefully arranged that his company should 
handle a large bond issue for the Russian Government if given per- 
mission to do insurance business throughout that vast land. Mr. 
Perkins brought the bonds back, carried the deal through with con- 
summate skill, and won for himself a place on the Finance Committee 
of the New York Life, a position then keenly coveted by the greatest 
financial interests in the metropolis. 

Mr. Perkins's adroitness and originality as a financier sprouted at a 
very early age. 


One very stormy night, when he was a fledgling insurance solicitor 
out West, he waded through deep snow to a country flour mill, and 
tackled the miller, his brother and son. 

They were not interested — at first. But they could not run away. 
Finally, Perkins, finding they would not part with any cash, offered 
to accept their notes in payment for the first premium. This bait 
got them. By this time the hour for finishing up the day's business 
had arrived, and Perkins noticed they were putting quite a snug sum 
into the safe. 

"I suppose you sometimes buy bargains, don't you?" he remarked. 

To be sure, they did. 

"Well, now, I'll sell you something absolutely good at a bargain 
price. I'll sell you your own notes at a discount." 

And in five minutes Perkins was walking out with his pockets bulg- 
ing with cash ! 

"Say, young fellow," the old German miller called after him, "I 
wish you would let me know what you are doing when you are 40. 
Will you send me your photograph then?" 

At thirty-nine the insurance solicitor was drawing a larger salary 
than the President of the United States and refusing a partnership in 
the country's greatest banking house. At forty he was a member of 
Morgan & Company. 

How had he done it? How may others attain similar success? 

"The most important thing of all is to look upon your work as 
play and throw yourself into it with the same zest and relish 
and determination to excel as when you play baseball or checkers or 
football," Mr. Perkins emphasized. "By adopting this mental atti- 
tude toward your work you can accomplish more and find greater 
pleasure and satisfaction in the doing of it. Any young man — or older 
man — having this conception of his duties, will not worry if obliged 
to stay after five o'clock; he will be eager to achieve the task in hand 
and will get genuine fun out of attaining his purpose. 

"Another valuable lesson I learned from my father, namely, that a 
change of occupation is almost equal to a vacation. The idea that 
you must have a certain amount of rest, doing nothing, is all wrong. 
To keep your red corpuscles red, there is nothing like healthy work 
enthusiastically performed. 

"My own method has been to live every day as though it was the 
only day I had to live and to crowd everything possible into that day. 
Pay no attention to the clock or what you are paid, but work and live 
for all there is in it — just as you would play football — and everything 
else will take care of itself. 

"At the head of the table there is always most room. It is the 
tree that grows and grows until it overtops the others that gets the 


most air and sunshine. The thing for the young man to do is to 
strive with all the energy he possesses to excel in actual ability. Pull 
is not necessary. Nor should a young man bother too much about his 
wages — I never asked an increase in my life. You can command 
sooner or later what you are entitled to — if you preeminently deserve 

"But you have got to be ultra-proficient in some particular thing. 
You must stand out and do it better than the fellows around you 
whether you are an office-boy, a stenographer, or an executive. You 
must use your head as well as your hands. Don't be afraid to do 
extra work lest it interfere with your theatre-going — I don't go to the 
theatre half-a-dozen times during the winter, not that I don't like it, 
but there are other things more worth doing." 

As I have always regarded as Mr. Perkins's chief contribution to 
the improvement of the modern economic system his origination and 
introduction of profit sharing with employees, I questioned him on 
how he came to conceive and carry out this idea. 

"Necessity was the mother of its invention," he replied. "Also, I 
realized that profit sharing would add to the zest of work. It is 
absolutely the only way to solve the problem between capital and 
labour. I adopted it before ever I entered Morgan's 

"It came about in this way: When I took charge of the New 
York Life agents, I found conditions most unsatisfactory. The com- 
pany had only a general agent in each state and this agent appointed 
all the solicitors for his state and had them under him. If one of 
those general agents resigned he would take away most of his solicitors 
with him. Moreover, it was a very common thing for solicitors to 
make all sorts of gross misrepresentations in order to get initial pre- 
miums, and once they had 'worked' one particular district they would 
clear out and start all over again to fool another group of people. 

"It was essential, I saw, that there should be something to bind 
all the agents and solicitors to the company, some strong inducement 
for them to stay by the company and treat it fairly by not misrepre- 
senting things to people and thus heaping all sorts of troubles and 
tangles upon the officers to straighten out. 

"Most of the agents, too, were an improvident lot, spending every- 
thing they made. I organized the much-discussed 'Nylic' to cure 
all these evils. We explained to the agents that if they would save 
as much money as they could each year and put it into a common 
fund, the company would add to it a certain percentage. Then the 
entire sum would be invested for the benefit of those who subscribed 
to it and made to earn as much as possible. 

"This plan accomplished these valuable results: It taught the 
agents to save. Automatically it induced them to stay with the 


New York Life. Then, when they knew they were to stay with the 
company, they had to tell the truth; and when they ceased to fool 
the policy holders, these agents had no longer the reasons they for- 
merly had to quit. The few agents who had been in the habit of 
saving, often invested their money unwisely and the consequent worry 
militated against their efficiency. The 'Nylic' money was judiciously 
invested for these men and increased very markedly. 

"When the insurance investigations came along, the forces of the 
other companies were demoralized whereas ours stood by us like a 
stone wall. 

"We did away with the general state agents entirely. They were 
really nothing but middlemen. The company rented its own offices 
throughout the country, put a responsible man in charge of each on a 
salary basis and engaged the agents direct, so that the company knew 
the name and kept a record of each man representing it in the field. 
Under this system if any agent left he could not take a whole crowd 
with him. The arrangement made for efficiency and saved the com- 
pany — and, therefore, the policy holders — a great deal of money." 

The profit-sharing plan thus instituted by Mr. Perkins was later 
introduced by him into the United States Steel Corporation and the 
International Harvester Corporation and has since been copied, either 
in toto or in modified form, by scores of other corporations. This, 
to my mind, is the best monument raised by Mr. Perkins. 

Mr. Perkins has been an enigma to most of the financial community 
and to a large section of the public. Some of his activities, actual or 
rumoured, while he was with Morgan & Company, his retirement from 
that firm at the end of ten years, his announcement that he intended 
to devote the remainder of his life to aiding in the amelioration of 
social conditions and the solution of economic and public problems, 
his extremely unconventional political activities under the Roosevelt 
Progressive banner — all these things have excited comment, criticism, 
and even suspicion. For a "Wall Street millionaire" to give up 
money-making, cast off established political affiliations and announce 
that he would become an active, practical humanitarian was some- 
thing the people could not quite fathom. There must be a nigger in 
the woodpile. It was so unlike the ordained order of things. It was 
too good to be true. 

I hinted at these things and asked Mr. Perkins: "What about it?" 

"I know," he nodded. "I suppose my action did seem queer to 
those unfamiliar with all the facts, but to anyone knowing my ancestry 
and my view of life and of money-making, and knowing, also, how I 
at first refused the lucrative offer to join Mr. Morgan, my conduct 
has not been at all illogical. Two of my forbears were David Wal- 
bridge and George Walbridge, both prominent men in Michigan, the 


former being a staunch Congressman from that state. It was this 
David Walbridge who presided at the meeting at Kalamazoo where 
the Republican Party was born. By the way, when Mr. Hughes was 
recently in Kalamazoo they presented him with a cane that Abraham 
Lincoln had given to this granduncle of mine, David Walbridge. 
My middle name is Walbridge, as also was my father's. I, therefore, 
had good Republican blood in me — and also, perhaps, a fair share of 

"Then, my father, although not a rich man by any means, was 
deeply interested in philanthropic and similar work. He was chair- 
man of the Illinois Board of Reformatories and was associated with 
Dwight L. Moody, about i860, in organizing the Sands Missionary 
Sunday School — so called because they had no building and met on 
the sands. It became the largest in Chicago with an attendance of 
1,200 scholars, rivalled only by John Wanamaker's school in Philadel- 
phia. He also organized other mission Sunday Schools and started 
the Railroad Mission in a box car — until recently I carried the watch 
the Railroad Sunday-school teachers gave my father, one of the first 
stem-winding watches in the country. 

"Is it not natural, therefore, that I should become, for example, 
a member of the Prison Commission and be interested in Thomas Mott 
Osborne's work? My father believed in the honour system fifty 
years ago and believed, also, in rewarding delinquents for good be- 
haviour, etc. I recall that while I was a lad of only six, George Payson 
Weston was to pass our home on the south side of Chicago on his 
first great walk from New England to Chicago and my father, who 
had supplied the boys of the reform school near our home with 
instruments, got the superintendent to take more than half the boys 
out of the school and accompany Weston into Chicago with the reform- 
school brass band at the head of the procession. Not a single boy 
tried to run away, yet my father was trounced unmercifully by the 
newspapers for the danger to which he had exposed the city! He was, 
you see, something of a progressive! 

George Walbridge Perkins, born on January 31, 1862, was ten years 
old before he was sent to school, his father's theory being that, as he 
would not ask a child to carry a hod of coal upstairs lest it hurt his 
spine, it was even more important not to put undue strain upon the 
brain of a child. At school George often got into trouble for not 
doing things according to rule; he could get the correct answer quickly 
by methods of his own, a species of originality that was not encouraged. 
Graduating from the public school at fifteen he insisted on going to 
work rather than to high school. 

His first job was sorting lemons and oranges in a fruit store in 
Water Street — "and I have been more or less engaged in sorting 


lemons from oranges ever since," he commented laughingly in recalling 
these early days. It was dirty, unremunerative work, affording no 
outlet for ingenuity or originality. So in a few months he found a 
place as office-boy with the New York Life Insurance Company. 
Almost from the start he would go out of an evening, after finishing 
his day's duties, and hunt for "prospects." Before long he was 
writing quite a little insurance. 

Next he invented an entirely new kind of ledger, which attained 
quite a reputation under the name of the "Perkins Record." It did 
away with many unnecessary entries in other books and kept a com- 
plete and convenient record of each policy. He did other radical and 
progressive things — so much so that the first time he went to New 
York the chief accountant, an old German, to whom all the branch 
offices reported, snapped, when Mr. Perkins was introduced: "So 
you are the man who breaks more rules of the company than any 
other cashier?" 

This rebuff from such a dignitary "scared me out of seven years' 
growth," Mr. Perkins afterward related. 

From office-boy in Chicago young Perkins, when seventeen, went 
to the Cleveland office of the company as assistant bookkeeper, and 
when twenty-one had been appointed cashier. There was not much 
room for originality in this position, nor did it afford enough facilities 
for rubbing shoulders with other people and doing business. When 
twenty-four he resigned and took a roving commission as solicitor, 
making Denver his headquarters. Within two years he was made 
agency director there and soon made #15,000 a year in commissions. 
Next he was promoted to the responsible position of inspector of 
agencies in the West, with his office in Chicago, at $15,000 per annum. 

This was a man's job. As already explained, the agency system in 
those days was extremely unsatisfactory. To make matters worse, 
vicious attacks began to be made by the New York newspapers upon 
the principal life-insurance companies. The situation called for 
virile, aggressive action. Perkins rose to the occasion. 

His fecund mind hatched a new idea to hearten and stimulate the 
discouraged agents. With a stroke of genius, he started the "Bulle- 
tin," which was destined to become famous throughout the insurance 
world — and destined, also, to have many imitators. It began as a 
four-page circular of which three pages carried interesting miscella- 
neous information, and the first a message each week from the brilliant 
young inspector of agencies. Perkins's idea would have done credit 
to the editor of the most up-to-date morning or evening newspaper. 
The "Bulletin" was mailed to reach every agent at his home on 
Monday morning. 

In Mr. Perkins's mind was the picture of an agent sitting in a chair 


reading a local newspaper, smoking a cigar, taking things easy. The 
Perkins message was directed straight to that man and was so con- 
structed as to arouse him to throw away his cigar, put on his coat, and 
go in search of somebody to insure. It was a clarion call to duty, a 
ringing message of inspiration. It appealed to the man's manhood. 
It shamed sloth. It awakened ambition. Also, and importantly, 
it did the trick. 

The New York Life's agents, or most of them, became veritable 
dynamos. They hustled as never before. Croakers who wrote com- 
plainingly that the New York newspaper attacks were killing business 
received the crushing reply that exact data had been gathered of 
the number of copies of New York newspapers that went west of 
Chicago and that the total was infinitesimal contrasted with the num- 
ber of people to be insured. This little investigation was another 
idea born in the inspector's fruitful brain. 

The inevitable happened. The invaluable work being done by 
Perkins became the talk of the insurance world and in three years, 
when exactly thirty, he was elected third vice-president of the New 
York Life Insurance Company at #25,000 a year. In less than a year 
he was honoured by election to the Board of Trustees. Promotion to 
the second vice-presidency, in 1898, at $35,000, was immediately 
followed by his elevation to the Finance Committee, while in 1900 
he was made chairman of the Finance Committee, a post, in some 
respects, carrying greater responsibilities than even that of the presi- 
dency of the company. 

It was in this year, 1900, that Mr. Perkins became a Morgan part- 
ner. In 1903 he was elected first vice-president of the New York 

Mr. Perkins retired from J. P. Morgan & Company on December 
31, 1910, "for the purpose of devoting more time to work of a public 
and semi-public nature, notably profit sharing and other benefit 

During his decade's service as a banker perhaps the most notable 
achievements of Mr. Perkins were his epochal introduction of profit 
sharing in the United States Steel Corporation, of whose Finance 
Committee he became a member, his gigantic merger of farm ma- 
chinery manufacturers into the International Harvester Corporation, 
and his effective financial piloting of that organization as chairman 
of the Finance Committee. 

Mr. Morgan never had a more active, on-the-jump partner than 
George W. Perkins, yet, although the two men were totally different 
in their make-up, they managed to pull together in close harmony for 
ten years. Wall Street gossip that Mr. Perkins was asked to resign 
because of certain stock-market operations was widely credited by 


those ignorant of Mr. Perkins's philosophy of life, for it did seem an 
extraordinary thing for a man under fifty, full of health and vigour 
and ambition, to step down from a shining banking pedestal into 
financial retirement. The most notable characteristic of George 
Walbridge Perkins, however, is his inherent penchant for doing 
original, out-of-the-ordinary, not to say startling, things. 

Even while in the thick of the game he preached doctrines not then 
generally subscribed to concerning capital's responsibilities to the 
public. For example, ten years ago he laid down this dictum in an 
address on "The Modern Corporation" at Columbia College. "The 
corporations of the future must be those that are semi-public servants, 
serving the public, with ownership widespread among the public, 
and labour so fairly and equitably treated that it will look upon its 
corporation as its friend and protector rather than as an ever-present 
enemy; above all, believing in it so thoroughly that it will invest its 
savings in the corporation's securities and become partners in the 
business. . . . For business purposes in this country the United 
States Government is a corporation with fifty subsidiary companies, 
and the sooner this is realized the sooner we can get the right kind of 
supervision of semi-public business enterprises and, in this way, give 
the public the publicity and the protection to which it is entitled in 
the conduct of business by corporations. In no other way can the 
public be protected from evils in corporation management." 

Mr. Perkins now works harder in the public interest than he ever 
worked for his own pocket. His most recent activities have been in 
checkmating the rising cost of foodstuffs, his efforts in this direction 
having won him official recognition and an official position. While 
others talked, Perkins did things, bringing food to New York and 
placing it on the market at low prices. He is a member of thirty-five 
non-business societies and associations interested in various phases of 
the public welfare, education, art, etc. Almost singlehanded he 
has brought within measurable distance of fruition the colossal scheme 
to create not merely a local Palisades Park across the river from New 
York but an interstate park running all the way from Fort Lee to 
Newburgh along the west side of the Hudson River. 

Some shallow money-grabbing individuals were at first inclined to 
scoff and sneer at Mr. Perkins's avowed intention to devote the rest of 
his life to worthy public or semi-public purposes, but his works have 
stopped their mouths. I confess to having been prejudiced against 
Mr. Perkins because of his somewhat brusque, snappish mannerisms, 
of which I once received an unpalatable taste; yet the fact remains 
that he is a conspicuous example of a wealthy, active, forceful busi- 
ness man relinquishing money-making at a relatively early age to 
devote unstinted energy to unselfish, helpful causes. 


Europe has many men of somewhat similar type, men of affluence 
who devote their lives chiefly to the public interest, but this country 
is, or at least was before the war, so madly engaged in dollar-making 
that few millionaires have turned from serving mammon to serving 
their fellowmen with their heads, hearts, and hands — though some 
have been lavish enough with part of their surplus lucre. 

Mr. Perkins married Miss Evelina Ball of Cleveland, in 1899, and 
has two children, a daughter and a son, the latter, George W. Perkins, 
Jr., who graduated from Princeton in 1917 and immediately took up 
Y. M. C. A. war work. 


CAN you picture a young bank clerk of to-day rising before 
daylight, hurrying off to the bank to oil and polish the floors, 
clean the brass, and then scrape the mud off the street crossings 
in front of the bank door so as to make the spot the cleanest in the 
town ? 

Or, do you know many country lads of twelve having vision enough 
to subscribe regularly for a dozen newspapers in different parts of the 
country with a view to learning something of the great world lying 
beyond the native village and using the knowledge thus gathered as a 
means of making dreams come true? 

The story of the rise of George M. Reynolds from a farm boy, follow- 
ing the plow, to the presidency of the largest bank in the United States 
outside of New York — the Continental and Commercial National 
Bank of Chicago and its allied institutions, having $400,000,000 
resources — glows with lessons of inspiration for the youth of America. 
This is the ex-farm boy who was offered the post of Secretary of the 
Treasury by President Taft. Also, among the honours conferred 
upon him has been the presidency of the American Bankers' Asso- 
ciation, with its 17,000 members. When the famous Aldrich Currency 
Commission went to Europe, the former plowman was taken along as 
expert financial adviser. 

Determination, incessant work, continuity of purpose, patience, 
unflagging optimism, never-failing cheerfulness, careful study of 
human nature, a spirit of democracy and faith in the goodness of 
human nature are the principal ingredients of success, Mr. Reynolds 
has learned in the character-testing school of experience through 
which he has passed. 

"In life, as on the farm, you reap what you sow," Mr. Reynolds de- 
clared. "The trouble with most young men to-day is that they want 
to reap the moment they have sown. That is not nature's way. 
By sowing or planting carefully and tilling the ground intelligently 
the harvest-time will come in due season — but not before. Patience 
is not a virtue; it is a necessity." 

Mr. Reynolds began his sowing early. His farmer father, however, 
put him in the wrong field at the start. He wanted George to be a 
merchant. So he purchased an interest in a store in the neighbouring 
township of Panora, Iowa, and installed the 15-year-old son behind 




the counter. The farmers' wives brought butter and eggs, and 
George's duty, after counting the eggs and weighing the butter, was 
to dole out, in return, tea, coffee, sugar, tobacco — and calico. It was 
the calico that upset all papa Reynolds's plans. Every housewife 
buying calico wanted to make sure beyond doubt that the colours in 
her new dress were fast and would not run. 

The standard method of proving the quality of the dyes was to 
have the store clerk tear off a small piece of the calico, chew it vigor- 
ously, take the ball of calico from his mouth, unravel it in front of the 
critical customer, and show that each colour had stayed strictly within 
its own bounds. 

George's ambitions persisted in bursting through the walls of the 
village store — and his teeth were rebelling against calico-chewing. 
The whole business was too small and petty, he felt; it did not appeal 
to him. 

After a particularly busy Saturday of butter-weighing, egg-counting, 
grocery-selling, and calico-munching, George went home and told his 
father he would ten times rather work on the farm, as he knew he was 
a round peg in a square hole. 

On Monday the Reynolds interest in the store was sold. 

George became plowman and teamster. In those days Iowa re- 
quired each farmer to do so many days' work in road-making and 
repairing. Young Reynolds got a team and did work for neighbours 
at $2.50 a day instead of the #3 allowed. He was a sturdy, healthy, 
broad-backed youth and, though not sixteen, he could hold his own 
with the best of them. 

Every spare moment was devoted to reading and gathering informa- 
tion about a broader world than Panora. Whenever he got a chance 
he hied to the orchard, squatted in the shade of the apple trees, 
and devoured his newspapers, among them the St. Louis Globe- 
Democrat, New Orleans Picayune, Cincinnati Enquirer, Atlanta 
Constitution, San Francisco Chronicle, Portland Oregonian, and 
Rocky Mountain News of Denver. 

He found his feet when given a job at $12.50 a month in the Guthrie 
County Bank, a small local institution in which his father was a 
stockholder. His foot was now on the right ladder, he knew, and he 
prepared to climb. The first steps included, as already told, the 
polishing of the floors and the scraping and sweeping of the street 
crossings in front of the bank — all duties not called for in his contract; 
his title, if you please, was that of bookkeeper. 

"You liked the banking business from your first day in it?" I 

"Yes," he replied, "I liked it so much that social pleasures lost 
interest for me. I got more fun out of working at the bank in the 


evenings than I could have got by attending local parties or other 
social functions. My newspaper and other reading had taught me 
that nothing worth while could be gained without industry, and I was 
determined to work hard." 

Many a night, after finishing at the bank, between eight and nine 
o'clock, he hurried to a small grain elevator owned by his father, 
donned overalls and, with a scoop-shovel, loaded railroad cars in 
order that the elevator might have space for grain arriving from the 
farms next morning. 

For his intelligence and application to duty at the bank he was soon 
given opportunity to assist in making loans. Business activities 
interested him. He wanted to try his own hand at it. His chance 

One winter day a stranger from northern Iowa stepped off the 
train and called at the bank to ask where he could buy 2,000 cords of 
wood to use in burning brick seventy-five miles away. Young 
Reynolds saw a chance for a profitable deal by turning wood contrac- 
tor. Quickly ascertaining the freight rate, etc., the embryonic trader 
agreed to furnish the wood at a price which he calculated would net 
him a profit of $2 per cord, or $4,000 on the transaction. 

Alas, the business novice overlooked the fact that the surrounding 
black loam roads became impassable for a wagon after a spring thaw. 
Consequently, those from whom he had purchased supplies were un- 
able to make delivery when the frost left the ground. The brick- 
maker clamoured for his wood, urging that failure to send it would 
ruin several kilns of brick, in which event he would sue Reynolds for 
the loss! 

Reynolds hustled here, there, and everywhere, scouring the near-by 
country for small quantities which, by paying extra, would and could 
be dragged over the bad roads. His $4,000 was dwindling sadly! 

But fate, he was determined, should not cheat him of his entire 
profit. He would save all loading charges by doing the work himself! 

After finishing at the bank, he took a lantern night after night, went 
to the railway side track, piled in as much wood as he could get through 
the car door, then climbed into the car, carried the wood back and 
stacked it up until the car was filled. Early next morning he would 
repeat the performance. In sixty days he finished the loading and 
shipping of the full 2,000 cords — a cord of wood is a large wagon-load 
eight feet long, four feet high, and four feet in width, so you can guess 
what the handling and rehandling of the 2,000 wagon-loads with his 
own hands meant to Reynolds. 

The whole community guyed him about his famous wood contract. 
But as he had actually cleared $2,500 profit for his 60 days' work 
Reynolds was not quite sure whom the joke was on! 


"I was no worse for the wear except that I had lacerated hands and 
the bank books suffered a little from bad writing," he declared in 
recounting the incident. 

The larger world still kept a-callin\ Panora had several citizens 
clearsighted enough to see that young Reynolds possessed qualities 
likely to carry him far. To celebrate his majority — he was born on 
January 15, 1865 — he set out to seek a larger sphere. Two well-to-do 
citizens furnished enough capital to increase his own savings to 
$40,000, and, with drafts in his inside pocket, he first looked over 
Kansas, and then Nebraska, where he opened a farm loan business, in 
Hastings. By buckboard, horseback and every other available 
means of transportation he traversed southern Nebraska and north- 
ern Kansas. He kept his ears and eyes open, and drew maps locating 
all creeks and rivers, alkali pits, etc. He granted mortgages to farmers 
and disposed of farm loans wherever he could find a market. He was 
now for the first time seeing the world and rubbing shoulders with 
the people in it. He took up the study of human nature in earnest, 
believing that a knowledge of this science would prove a key to suc- 

Much against his inclination, he consented to return to Panora 
two years later when his father purchased the controlling interest in the 
Guthrie County National Bank. This time he entered it as cashier 
and manager — only eight years after his first entry into the institution. 
It was not long before he doubled the bank's resources. Though only 
in his early twenties, he was already one of Panora's most prominent 

He wanted Panora to spruce up. Other towns, his journeyings 
taught him, had electric light and water works; why not Panora? 
True, it had only 1,000 inhabitants, but what of that? Reynolds laid 
his idea before the mayor but he, staid citizen, squelched the ambitious 
project. Reynolds quietly canvassed the town, found the majority 
of the voters were with him, and then coolly told the Mayor it would 
expedite matters if he would resign. He did so, and "Mayor Rey- 
nolds" was his successor. 

When twenty-eight he accepted the cashiership of the Des Moines 
National Bank, where the field was broader, the opportunities more 
plentiful and the competition keener. He proved his mettle. In less 
than two years he was elevated to the presidency of the bank. At 
thirty he had thus risen to a place of prominence and influence in the 

He had and has a memory that is almost uncanny. He can recall 
probably more names and faces than any other banker in America, 
and this, with his years of active work in the American Bankers' 
Association, his wide travel, his approachability, and his genuine in- 


terest in all classes of mankind, has enabled him to build up perhaps 
the widest circle of friends of any man in his profession. 

His reputation having become more than local, he received numbers 
of flattering ofFers from institutions in other cities, but refused them 
all until the powerful Continental National Bank of Chicago, backed 
by the prestige and millions of the Armours, asked him to join it as 

On December I, 1897, when he entered the institution, it had a 
capital of #2,000,000 and deposits of #14,000,000. Now the institu- 
tion and the two offshoots formed by it have a combined capital and 
surplus of over #40,000,000 and deposits approximating #400,000,000. 

From cashier, Mr. Reynolds stepped first to vice-presidency and 
later (in 1906) to the presidency of the Continental Bank. Here his 
restless energy, his inordinate capacity for hard work, his aggressive- 
ness and his ambitions had full play. First the Continental took over 
two small institutions, the International Bank and the Globe Na- 
tional Bank, in 1898, and followed this up by acquiring the National 
Bank of North America, with over #10,000,000 deposits, in 1904; 
the American Trust & Savings Bank, with #34,000,000 deposits, in 
1909; the Commercial National Bank, with nearly #72,000,000 de- 
posits, in 1910; and the Hibernian Banking Association, with 
#26,000,000 deposits, in 191 1. 

Mr. Reynolds's bank has fully 50 per cent, more deposits than the 
total deposits of all Chicago banks when he went there twenty years 
ago. Of Chicago's increase from #240,000,000 to about #1,500,000,000 
the Continental and Commercial has been responsible for nearly 
30 per cent. 

Mr. Reynolds is president also of the Continental and Commercial 
Trust and Savings Bank and the Hibernian Banking Association, both 
owned outright by the parent company. 

One of Mr. Reynolds's dreams was to have not only the largest 
Bank in Chicago, but the finest bank building in the country. It 
cost #12,000,000 to turn this dream into a reality. The bank building 
covers a larger ground area than any office building in the world and 
the main floor of the bank, measuring 160 x 324 feet, with ceilings 
seventy feet in height in the centre, has no equal in this or any other 
country. Its "windows" number ninety-two. The building has 
three miles of corridors. Incidentally, the building earned on the 
bank's investment 82 per cent, in the second year and has been un- 
qualifiedly successful ever since. 

Some idea of the extent of the business done may be gathered from 
the fact that over 1,100 clerks are employed and that the national 
bank alone handles 100,000 outside checks every day, while its clear- 
ing and over-the-counter business brings the aggregate number of 


checks up to from 200,000 to 350,000 per day. The Reynolds institu- 
tions have a combined total of well over 100,000 accounts, including 
more than 5,000 bank depositors. No commercial bank, even in New 
York, can eclipse such totals. 

When Reynolds came to Chicago as cashier of the Continental he 
was at his desk and well into the day's work before the doors were 
open for business. He perused nearly all the mail that came into the 
bank in order to familiarize himself thoroughly with the business and 
he actually signed practically 75 per cent, of all the outgoing letters. 
He worked with lightning speed. He could size up situations at a 
glance. Also, his industry became infectious; all around him were 
inspired to do faster and better work. 

There was little "luck" in his rise. 

Here was this man, born in an obscure little town in a then unde- 
veloped part of the country, surrounded by only puny enterprises 
and having little direct connection with great centres of financial, 
commercial, and industrial activity. Yet, when only twelve, he cast 
off the provincial fetters. His acumen in subscribing for newspapers 
from all parts of the country; his readiness to do the work of a char- 
woman and a scavenger in order to help the little bank he entered; 
his willingness to jump in and help his father to load grain cars after 
having worked a round of the clock in the bank; the resourcefulness 
and pluck he exhibited in carrying out his first business deal, in lum- 
ber; his perception of the value of studying human nature and of 
making many friends — all these things and the spirit behind them 
meant that Reynolds could not fail to make his mark in the world. 

What was his philosophy? What were his propelling ideas and 
ideals? What things did he find helpful in attaining success? 

I cornered Mr. Reynolds for half an hour at his desk one very busy 
day and fired these questions at him. With characteristic promptness 
and directness he replied: 

"A wide acquaintance is a great asset. I attended my first bankers' 
convention while I was still a youth at Panora. I have noticed bank- 
ers making up their golf matches before starting for a convention. 
When I attend conventions I play the business game, not golf. 

"Studying the science of human nature has helped me greatly. 
If you know human nature you know how to handle human beings. 

"I have never aspired to become a tremendously rich man. The 
best reward is consciousness of duty well done. This consciousness 
enables a man to sleep at the end of the day. 

"The average boy wants to become vice-president in a year or two. 
Patience is indispensable. But if a young man always strives to be 
agreeable and to do his full duty without spending any time watching 
the clock, he is certain to have a fair measure of success. The man 


who makes a great success is the one who does the task a little better 
than the other fellows and who shows a little keener insight into men 
and things. ; 

"If a man elects to play poker five or six times a week and to shine 
in society, he must not complain if he does not shine in his business. 
The man, on the other hand, who makes riches his all-consuming con- 
sideration and ambition must not be surprised if people turn their 
backs on him because his finer instincts have become blunted and 

"You cannot undertake to develop certain qualities in others with- 
out unconsciously developing the same qualities in yourself. 

"One of the greatest forms of satisfaction comes from doing some- 
thing for other people. 

"To sum up, it is personality that counts. Personality embraces 
many qualities, such as neatness, cheerfulness, courtesy, alertness, 
intelligence, and a sound knowledge of human nature. These qualities 
spell efficiency and efficiency spells success. The 'all-round' man is 
the highest type of human product, higher than the specialist, be- 
cause the 'all-round' man must be able to handle specialists as well as 

Mr. Reynolds has been erroneously accredited with having taken 
no vacation for many years, whereas the opposite is the case, for he 
firmly believes in the efficacy of recreation and diversion in the open 
air, with plenty of sunshine and exercise. He not only takes frequent 
vacations himself, but sees to it that his associate officers have gener- 
ous and regular vacations, and, furthermore, that they are given a 
full day off each week throughout the year. 

Discussing banking, Mr. Reynolds said: "Candour and frankness 
will carry a man farther than subterfuge. If a banker feels he must 
refuse a loan he should explain frankly his reasons. A borrower 
should never be made to feel that he is under any obligations to a 
banker outside of the repayment of the loan. Borrowers are as 
necessary to the success of a bank as depositors. In panic times the 
best policy is to help customers in every possible way, not to squeeze 
them. Confidence is the greatest asset in banking." 

Incidentally, Mr. Reynolds does not own a share of stock in any 
railroad or industrial company doing business with his bank. He 
feels he can serve his stockholders better if he has no "entangling al- 
liances" which might warp his judgment in deciding questions affect- 
ing his bank and its customers. He is, however, a director in the 
home bank where he started. 

Mr. Reynolds for many years has given away one-tenth of his in- 
come annually — that is, he and his wife together. He married very 
young. "It was the best day's business I ever did," he says of this 


step in his career. Indeed, Mr. Reynolds attributes more than half 
his success to Mrs. Reynolds. She is noted for her activities on behalf 
of crippled children and homeless waifs. She is a talented musician. 
Their only child, Earle H. Reynolds, is old enough to be a chum of 
his parents. Earle is duplicating the success of his father. He re- 
fused to work in his father's institution and struck out for himself. 
He is already, though only twenty-nine, president of the People's 
Trust and Savings Bank, with deposits running into eight figures. 


JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER is the most impressive, the broad- 
est-visioned, the most fundamental-thinking man I have 
ever met. Napoleon "thought in Empires," Cecil Rhodes 
"thought in Continents." John D. Rockefeller thinks universally; 
his yard-stick is the world, the whole human family. His invariable 
test is: How will it affect mankind ? He looks and acts beyond paro- 
chialism, beyond provincialism, even beyond nationalism. 

For example: 

"The support of a hospital is a local duty and ought to be regarded 
by local people as a privilege," he told me; "the hospital serves only 
its own locality. But if a body of earnest, brainy, resourceful, sci- 
entifically minded medical men can be enabled to conduct researches 
that may evolve new knowledge which can be placed at the service of 
all, then something is accomplished for the whole human family. 
That is a duty and a privilege beyond any one locality. That is 
something a rich man can properly aid." 

"What has given you the greatest satisfaction in having been able 
to do?" I asked. 

We were playing golf, and Mr. Rockefeller played one of his char- 
acteristically straight iron shots before replying. Then he replied 
only indirectly. 

"If in all our giving we had never done more than has been achieved 
by the fine, able, modest men of the Medical Institute, it would have 
justified all the money and all the effort we have spent. Only a day 
or two ago I received a report that we have discovered a cure for the 
terrible war condition known as gas gangrene. The tests convince 
these scientists that the new serum will prevent in large measure that 
destructive disease which has already maimed for life or killed thou- 
sands of young men. Isn't that a splendid and timely work these 
men have just done ?" 

Mr. Rockefeller will converse a whole day without using the word 
"I" half-a-dozen times. He always says "We" — unless telling a joke 
at his own expense. Once, before I knew Mr. Rockefeller well, when 
he said "we" in reply to a question I asked about an early incident of 
his career, I was puzzled as to whom he meant . " But who were the 
'we?'" I asked. He was embarrassed. He alone had done it, I had 
gathered from the records. "Oh — well — my brother William came 




in with us — later," was the halting, evasive reply born of mod- 

Another time I had cornered him into admitting that it was he and 
not "we" that had done a certain thing. Mr. Rockefeller didn't 
quite like it. 

"You must be careful," he cautioned, "if you write anything about 
me, not to make me out as having done anything more than the other 
men you write about." 

I mention these incidents to illustrate the trait that first strikes 
one in Mr. Rockefeller, his innate, unassumed modesty, his unobtru- 
siveness, his utter lack of ostentatious self-assertion. Pressure was 
brought to bear upon Mr. Rockefeller several years ago to have him 
assist in preparing a full biography of his life and work. 

"No," said Mr. Rockefeller in all sincerity, "I have never done 
anything worth writing a book about." And no biography was 

I count myself exceedingly fortunate in having been able to induce 
Mr. Rockefeller to recount some of his early struggles and experi- 
ences, to emit occasional flashes of his philosophy of life, and to ex- 
press his views on the ever-fresh and timely subject of the attainment 
of success. "Don't make me preach," was another of Mr. Rocke- 
feller's modesty-inspired injunctions to me; he simply abjures the 
idea of being represented as posing as an authority or a self-appointed 
dictator on any subject. "Don't take my son's say-so about me — 
he's biased," was another of Mr. Rockefeller's exhortations, given 
laughingly in front of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 

Here are some of the pointed sentences dropped informally — at golf 
or automobiling or at the table — by the most remarkable man the 
world of business has ever produced: 

"The most important thing for a young man starting life is to estab- 
lish a credit — a reputation, character. He must inspire the complete 
confidence of others. 

"The hardest problem all through my business career was to obtain 
enough capital to do all the business I wanted to do and could do 
given the necessary amount of money. You must establish a credit 
(character) before you can hope to have people lend you money. 

"The first large bank loan I received — it was $2,000, a big sum in 
those days — was granted me only because the head of the bank made 
himself familiar with my mode of life, my habits, my industry, and 
learned from my former employers that I was a young man who could 
be trusted. 

"Nowadays young men — and others — want to have too much done 
for them. They want to be presented with bonuses and to receive 
all sorts of concessions. 


"To get on, young men should study their business thoroughly; 
work carefully, accurately, and industriously; save their money, and 
then either become partners by buying a share of the business or go 
out and form a business of their own. 

"They must be self-reliant. They must not expect to have things 
handed them for nothing. They must make themselves strong by 
becoming able, brainy workers, by establishing a credit and by accum- 
ulating every dollar they can save after doing their full duty to so- 

"The way business is conducted now, it is easy for a man to buy 
shares in it and thus participate in the profits. 

"As for opportunities, there are ten to-day for every one there was 
sixty years ago. There were then few opportunities and very scanty 
means of taking advantage of them. Now large opportunities 
constantly spring up everywhere and we have a wonderful currency 
and credit system for enabling people to take hold of them." 

I asked Mr. Rockefeller how he came to conceive the idea of form- 
ing the Standard Oil Company, the first large-scale industrial combi- 
nation in modern times. His scrupulous care to give credit to others 
and to minimize his own efforts again obtruded. 

"We were not really the first to adopt the combination idea," 
he corrected me. (It was this "we" that tripped me up.) "The 
Western Union Telegraph people had begun to buy up two or three 
small telegraph lines and add them to their system. The Standard 
Oil Company was less the fruit of an idea than an outgrowth of neces- 
sity. The oil business was so demoralized that nearly every refinery was 
threatened with bankruptcy. Prices were below cost of production. 
Competition had been very keen, not to say cruel. There were many 
bitternesses. Conditions had become impossible. Something had 
to be done if the industry was to be saved. 

"I wrote our largest competitor asking if he would meet me at a cer- 
tain time and place. Although we had not spoken for a year — as I told 
you, there were keen bitternesses at that time — he agreed. We 
talked over the whole oil situation. He realized that heroic measures 
would be necessary to prevent general ruin. He then agreed to sell 
his property at a fair valuation and to come in with us. After that 
other properties were acquired in the same way." 

"Where did you get the capital, Mr. Rockefeller?" I asked. "You 
told me that capital was chronically scarce." 

The veteran founder of the most wonderful business enterprise 
ever created by the brain of man smiled and, with a twinkle, re- 
marked: "That had its funny sides. After we had had a property 
appraised, and a price satisfactory to all had been agreed upon, we 
offered either shares in the Standard Oil Company, or cash," Mr. Rocke- 


feller laughed. He hesitated, as if undecided about telling more. 
I hinted that he must have something interesting in his mind. 

"Yes, it does seem amusing now, although it was a matter of grave 
concern to us then. I would whip out our check book with rather a 
lordly air and remark, as if it were a matter of entire indifference to 
us: 'Shall I write a check or would you prefer payment in Standard 
Oil shares?' Most of them took the shares — very wisely, as it turned 
out. In some cases where the sellers were not very well up in business 
matters we persuaded them that it would be better for them to take 
at least part of their payment in shares because we ourselves felt very 
strongly that this would be more profitable for them in the end." 

"What did you do when cash was demanded instead of stock — you 
were always short of capital?" I asked. 

"We managed to scramble through somehow. By this time we 
had learned fairly well how to get banks to lend us money," was Mr. 
Rockefeller's reply. 

"To what do you attribute the phenomenal success of the Standard 
Oil Company?" I next asked. 

"To others," was Mr. Rockefeller's lightning rejoinder. 

I begged to question the accuracy of this explanation. We were 
walking from a teeing ground after two good drives. Mr. Rocke- 
feller stopped, leaned his head toward me, and said in a sort of con- 
fidential tone: 

"I will tell you something. People persist in thinking that I was a 
tremendous worker, always at it early and late, summer and winter. 
The real truth is that I was what would now be called a "slacker" 
after I reached my middle thirties. I used to take long vacations at 
my Cleveland home every summer and spent my time planting and 
transplanting trees, building roads, doing landscape gardening, driv- 
ing horses, and enjoying myself with my family, keeping in touch with 
business by private telegraph wire. I never, from the time I first 
entered an office, let business engross all my time and attention; I 
always took an active interest in Sunday-school and Church work, 
in children, and, if I might say so, in doing little things for friendless 
and lonely and poor people. I feel sincerely sorry for some of the 
business men who occasionally come to see me; they have allowed 
their business affairs to take such complete possession of them that 
they have no thought for anything else and have no time to really live 
as rational human beings. 

"Our success was largely due to our having been able to gather to- 
gether a group of the brainiest men in the business, men of great busi- 
ness aptitude, earnest and hardworking, forceful and honest men who, 
although possessing strong individualities, yet worked together for the 
one common aim, the building up of a sound, successful business. 


Sometimes there were differences in views, but our policy was 'All 
hands above the table,' and we would sit two whole days, if neces- 
sary, righting a proposition out until an agreement was reached. We 
never could get too many men of great brains to join us; there were no 
fears, no jealousies on this score." 

As an afterthought, Mr. Rockefeller added: "When you think of 
the calibre and the character of the men who worked together for so 
many years isn't it ridiculous to think that they could have done so 
were they engaged in anything dishonest or doing anything which 
must be kept secret ? Had these men not been engaged in honourable 
work how could they have stayed together and pulled together with- 
out a rupture so many years?" 

No American business man has ever been the target of more vi- 
tuperation than John D. Rockefeller. When I ventured to mention 
this matter I expected Mr. Rockefeller to drop his mild, kindly tone 
and the note of charitableness which had run through all his conversa- 
tion. Instead, my remark served but as an occasion for the revealing 
of another phase of Mr. Rockefeller's bigness, broadness, tolerance, 
and charitableness. 

"Yes, we have been misrepresented a great deal and accused of 
many things we never did and would not dream of doing," he replied 
in even voice. " But while I won't deny that some of the things writ- 
ten and said hurt very keenly and deeply indeed, I never allowed my- 
self to harbour resentment or bitterness, for I did not forget that it was 
natural that some who had not succeeded in the measure we had 
should feel disappointed and aggrieved. That was what we had to 
expect and be prepared to bear. I never for a moment doubted that, 
when the people understood things as they really were, they would be 
fair in their judgment. The whole record may not be made plain 
for years, but I am satisfied that twenty-five years from now the peo- 
ple will understand and will judge us according to the truth and not 
by the misrepresentations. I have no doubt as to the justice of the 

When I turned the conversation one day to the subject of giving, 
Mr. Rockefeller manifested keen interest. I mentioned to him that 
in course of my association with the most notable financial and busi- 
ness leaders in the country they had emphasized even more than his 
business achievements the efficacy of his philanthropies — instead of 
trying to mitigate evils, he had gone to the very roots of the causes of 
human ills and evils and had striven to effect fundamental remedies 
for their eradication. 

"Giving is not a thing of to-day or yesterday with me, as some 
people seem to think," Mr. Rockefeller replied with unusual earnest- 
ness. "I began to give away a part of my income regularly from the 


time I earned #25 a month, and I never ceased that practice. My 
mother taught me to help others, and I was extremely fortunate in 
having the heartiest cooperation of my wife and, later, my children, 
particularly my son, in this work. Without the sympathetic en- 
couragement and assistance of the whole family we might not have 
been able to do what little we have done. We all felt that the giving 
of money demanded just as careful study and as painstaking attention 
as the making of money. 

"Just as when I entered business I reasoned that the best and big- 
gest field to get into was one which would supply something useful 
having the whole world as a potential market, so we reasoned that in 
our giving we should also aim at doing something which might 
benefit the world in general — the people as a whole. This has been 
our guiding principle, to benefit as many people as possible. Instead 
of giving alms to beggars, if anything can be done to remove the 
causes which lead to the existence of beggars then something deeper 
and broader and more worth while will have been accomplished. In 
the same way, if the best doctors in the world can be given facilities 
to conduct experiments and researches year after year, going to any 
part of the world and spending whatever sums are necessary in their 
work; if by means of such scientific efforts new knowledge is acquired 
and new cures are devised for the elimination of diseases, then the 
benefits of this work become valuable for the whole human race." 

Education Mr. Rockefeller regards as a panacea for many of the 
world's troubles. Since ignorance is responsible for most of the 
world's misery, by doing away with ignorance and substituting there- 
for knowledge a long step is taken toward the abolition of misery. 
Hence Mr. Rockefeller's colossal donations for the furtherance of 

I touched upon the furore which has been created by the experi- 
ment in eliminating Greek and Latin from the college curriculum, 
which the General Education Board is planning to make. 

"It has stirred things up," Mr. Rockefeller replied spiritedly; "but 
this alone will do good. It will bring out all sides of the question and 
from it all something should be gained. I myself did not have any 
Greek or Latin, but one of my sons-in-law is very fond of Latin and 
always corresponds in Latin with one of his boys. I mention this to 
let you understand that I am not prejudiced one way or the other." 

"Who is the greatest of all the business men you have known?" 
I once asked Mr. Rockefeller when a blow-out stopped the automobile 
in which we were riding and thus gave an excellent opportunity for 
talking. It was at the side of a wood, and Mr. Rockefeller became 
interested in his favourite hobby, trees. I suggested one or two 
names. He still kept looking at some fine forest specimens. 


"Did you read a little article that was printed the other day about 
Mr. Gates ?" he finally remarked. I had. "Well, now, in anything 
you may write about me, don't forget to explain that Mr. Gates has 
been the guiding genius in all our giving. He came to us first to 
undertake certain business matters requiring talent of a high order and 
he showed phenomenal business ability. He combined with this the 
rare quality — born, no doubt, because he had the right kind of heart 
— of being able to direct the distribution of money with great wis- 
dom. We all owe much to Mr. Gates, and his helpfulness should 
be generously recognized. He combines business skill and philan- 
thropic aptitude to a higher degree than any other man I have ever 

From which I would deduce that Frederick T. Gates — the man who 
was instrumental in negotiating Mr. Rockefeller's first gift to the 
University of Chicago and has for many years shared with John D. 
Rockefeller, Jr., the supervision of the Rockefeller philanthropies — 
has been Mr. Rockefeller's most valuable personal aide. 

On the subject of men Mr. Rockefeller said: "Men, not machin- 
ery or plants, make an organization. The right kind of business men 
will build up an organization capable of producing a large volume of a 
good product at a low price, the three things essential to success. 
These men will introduce the right kind of appliances for the handling 
of their business; they will carefully conserve and utilize all by- 
products so as to prevent waste; they will know how to market their 
products in the largest and most economical way. They will also 
be big enough to know how to handle workers successfully." 

I brought up the subject of speculation. Mr. Rockefeller had 
emphatic views and expressed them with unusual animation. 

"We used to be accused of speculating in everything known to 
Wall Street. It was not true," declared Mr. Rockefeller. "The 
Standard Oil Company never owned or controlled a single bank or 
trust company or railroad or any other corporation not directly con- 
nected with its own business. Certain personal investments of mine did 
not turn out satisfactory and instead of leaving the sinking ship, we, as 
individuals, tried to save them by putting in more money and im- 
proving the management. That was how I came to be interested in 
certain mining properties and, as an outgrowth of them, in ore-carry- 
ing ships. 

"The success of the Standard Oil Company was largely due to the 
fact that for many years those connected with it concentrated all their 
energies to developing it and extending its ramifications to other 
countries. I kept denying the charges that the Standard Oil Com- 
pany was speculating in the stock market time and time again until I 
became tired. The charges, no doubt ? were based on the unfortu- 


nate fact that certain interests connected with the company entered 
into more or less speculative operations. The company never did. 

"I always opposed putting Standard Oil shares on the Stock Ex- 
change because I did not want to have them become the playthings 
of speculators. It was better that all our people should concentrate 
their attention on developing the business rather than be distracted 
in any way by the stock ticker. The oil business, you know, is liable 
to sudden and violent fluctuations, new fields are discovered which 
sometimes send down prices very sharply while at other times and 
places sources of supply give out. If our shares had been listed in the 
stock market they might have become favourite objects of speculation 
and gambling. To this day our shares are not listed on the New York 
Stock Exchange." 

No matter what phase of life — whether social, religious, financial, 
or business — was under discussion, I found Mr. Rockefeller always 
taking a world-wide view, always broad, always tolerant, never con- 
demning others, insistent upon minimizing his own achievements. 
He actually does not think of himself as having been the architect 
of the most efficient business organization in history. He does not 
think of himself as the richest man in the world — indeed, he takes so 
detached a view of his wealth that he speaks as if it did not belong 
to him at all, but was merely something to be devoted solely for the 
progress and betterment of mankind. He will speak of "those rich 
men" as if he did not belong to that class at all: as he views it, his 
money is not his in any real sense, but is a trust to be used according 
to the best judgment of the ablest men that can be brought together 
to study its use so as to further the greatest good of the greatest 

The Rockefeller homes, those of both father and son, have been 
on a strict war-ration basis for many months. The meals served by 
the richest family in the world are more simple and less expensive 
than those indulged in by the average American. The Rockefellers 
do not take the view that because they have the money, they are 
entitled to buy and consume as much as their fancy might choose. 
Three courses is their maximum. "We must all do what we can to 
save food for the millions who are suffering starvation/' remarked Mr. 
Rockefeller at one meal. 

And may I here digress to explode the popular fallacy that John 
D. Rockefeller eats only bread and milk. I have dined oftener than 
once with him and he ate as much as I did. 

I am tempted to go on and on quoting replies given by Mr. Rocke- 
feller to my questions on all sorts of subjects, but I must here confine 
myself to merely a brief outline of his career. 

John Davison Rockefeller is come of old French (Norman) 


stock. The first Rockefeller to migrate to America came from Hol- 
land in 1650. Mr. Rockefeller's grandfather married Lucy Avery, 
of a famous Connecticut family which traced its ancestry back to Eg- 
bert, the first king of England. Their eldest son, William Avery 
Rockefeller, married Eliza Davison, and John Davison Rockefeller 
was their oldest son, the second of six children. 

The Rockefeller children were taught the value of thrift, the neces- 
sity for working industriously, and the wisdom of managing their 
affairs carefully and thoughtfully. They were encouraged by re- 
wards for work well done and very early John Davison exhibited busi- 
ness acumen by electing to raise a brood of turkeys which could fend 
for themselves for the most part, so that when he sold them the 
amount realized was very much net profit. The proceeds he lent at 
7 per cent. The systematically kept records of this first business 
venture are among Mr. Rockefeller's cherished possessions. He was 
then not more than nine years old. He learned also how to milk cows, 
tend cattle, work in the field, and do general chores. 

The family removed from Richford, Tioga County, New York, 
where John Davison was born on July 8, 1839, to a farm on the 
Owasco Lake, near Moravia, when the lad was some three or four 
years of age. From here he removed to the valley of the Susque- 
hanna, near Owego, at the age of ten years. At the age of four- 
teen he removed to Cleveland, Ohio. His elementary schooling was 
assiduously supplemented by his mother, and he later entered high 
school, which he left at fifteen, and took a short course at a com- 
mercial college in Cleveland. 

At sixteen he started to find work. He tried stores, factories, of- 
fices, in vain. Finally a firm of forwarding and produce commission 
merchants, Hewitt & Tuttle, engaged him as office-boy and assistant 
bookkeeper, on September 26, 1855, a date whose anniversary he 
celebrates every year. No wages were stipulated for, and for three 
months he worked without knowing what he was to receive — an 
arrangement not quite typical of his composition. But the one 
thing which interested him was a chance to make himself useful to 
his employer; his compensation was entirely secondary. At the 
end of the year he was paid #50 for his fourteen weeks and started 
the new year at $25 a month. In the year following the #2,ooo-a- 
year bookkeeper resigned and young Rockefeller took the place at 
£500 a year. The third year he received #550. The fourth year 
he asked £800, and when only $700 was offered he decided to resign 
and to start a business. 

He was not yet twenty years old but he had used his time to ad- 
vantage. "I had learned everything I could about the firm's activi- 
ties," Mr. Rockefeller recalled to me. "I checked up every bill that 


came in and made it my business to see that my employers were not 
cheated. I recall that there was one captain who was always putting 
in claims for damages to shipments — we handled all kinds of import 
and export trade in addition to produce — and I decided to investigate. 
I insisted upon examining all the documents and shipments, and I 
found that he had been making entirely unwarranted claims, By 
taking just as keen an interest in everything that went on as the 
partners themselves, I learned a great deal. I got an insight into 
how business was handled, into systematic keeping of records, into 
every phase" of office management. I saw, too, how business was 
financed. Then I also had opportunity to see how customers were 

Meanwhile the young man was '''establishing a credit" outside his 
business circle. He had become, first, an enthusiastic member of the 
Sunday-school. At sixteen he was made clerk of the board of 
trustees of the struggling mission known as the Erie Street Baptist 
Church, which is now the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church. Before 
he was eighteen he was elected a trustee of the church and his 
younger brother, W illiam, succeeded him as clerk. The little church 
was threatened with disaster by the imminent closing of a mortgage. 
John D. Rockefeller decided to save it. He took up a position at 
the church door and buttonholed even* one who came out for a dona- 
tion or a pledge for the wiping out of the debt, setting an example by 
donating a substantial amount from his own pocket. Of course be 
succeeded. He became a leader and later the superintendent of the 
Sunday-school, was constantly searching out lonely young men and 
bringing them into church fellowship, and assisted poor people to the 
limit of his means. The reputation, he was thus conscientiously 
huilding up was to stand him in good stead when he entered 
business on his own account. His industry, his energy, his enthusiasm, 
his alertness, his ability, and his optimism impressed all with whom 
he came into touch. 

He engaged in the produce business, in 1859, with Morris B. 
Clark, a man ten years his senior. Mr. Rockefeller had saved $800 
and his father lent him #1,000 at 10 per cent, interest to enable 
him to supply his share of the capital. 

"I went out and visited farmers and others all over the adjoining 
-territory, talked with them, told them we would be glad of an oppor- 
tunity to serve them at any time, did not ask them to change their ex- 
isting connections, but left a card in case they would like to get in 
touch with us at some future time," Mr. Rockefeller recounted. 
"The results of this personal solicitation were far beyond our ex- 
pectations. Business poured in to us in such volume that we did 
more than $500,000 worth the first year." 


It was before Mr. Rockefeller was twenty-two years of age that he 
became interested in oil. Several refineries were started in Cleve- 
land to prepare crude oil for illuminating purposes and Mr. Rockefel- 
ler, already a shrewd business man, always on the lookout for oppor- 
tunities, foresaw that this new industry possessed unlimited poten- 
tialities. He made investigations and calculations. He grasped the 
fact that here was a substance which could probably be brought 
within the use of every household. He lost no time in helping to 
establish the oil refining firm of Andrews, Clark & Company, in 1862, 
of which Clark and Rockefeller were the financial and business man- 
agers. And three years later he sold out his interest in the commis- 
sion business to M. B. Clark and bought out the interests of his 
partners in Andrews, Clark & Company, and joined with Samuel 
Andrews to continue the business under the firm name of Rockefeller 
& Andrews. 

"We realized then that here was something the whole world would 
want, but we had no idea that our business would develop into the 
proportions it did," Mr. Rockefeller modestly confessed. "Indeed, 
I may say that, while I was always ambitious and always willing to 
work hard, I had no vision as big as the subsequent realities. Those 
associated with me and I, myself, simply did our day's work the best 
we could, doing what seemed wisest, and trying always to plan for a 
larger and larger future. We did not seek momentary advantages, 
but tried to build solidly and safely. My father had taught me this 
lesson by coming to me at the most awkward moments in my early 
business life and demanding repayment of his loans. He did this, 
of course, to test my resourcefulness and my ability to meet sudden 
emergencies. After I had hustled to procure his money he would 
laugh and hand it back, saying he did not need it but was glad to 
know I was able to meet my obligations." 

How to procure capital and credit to handle the enormous volume 
of business which Mr. Rockefeller's enterprise attracted was his hard- 
est problem during those creative years. Banking facilities were 
limited and the maximum his own bank could furnish was entirely 
insufficient for his rapidly growing needs. In one instance a bank 
president met Mr. Rockefeller on the street and gravely told him that 
his borrowings had become so heavy that Mr. Rockefeller must come 
and talk the situation over with the directors. "I'll be delighted to 
meet the directors," Mr. Rockefeller replied, "for I need a great deal 
more" Mr. Rockefeller added: "He never sent for me." 

As the business grew, the oil refining firm of William Rockefeller 
& Company was established, in the year 1866, consisting of William 
Rockefeller and Rockefeller and Andrews, with a refinery adjoining 
the works of Rockefeller & Andrews. Later the firm of Rockefeller 


& Company was established in New York City to manage the ex- 
port business of both firms. About the year 1867 H. M. Flagler 
and S. V. Harkness were brought into a firm, which included all 
these previously organized firms, under the name of Rockefeller, 
Andrews & Flagler. Spectacular fortunes had been earned in the oil 
industry and, as a consequence, the field had become overcrowded. 
More oil was produced than the market could absorb. Even the 
pioneer work done by the Rockefeller group in opening up foreign 
markets could not keep the domestic production within the limits 
of consumption. The selling price of oil fell below production cost. 
Grievous losses were incurred and many people went to the wall. 
Others frantically sold out when buyers could be found. Ruin con- 
fronted the whole industry. 

In 1869 the firm of Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler was merged 
into the Standard Oil Company of Ohio, with $1,000,000 capital, and 
Mr. Rockefeller became its president. He never once lost faith in 
the future of the business into which he had entered only after mature 
deliberation. Fires might sweep away valuable plants; important 
oil fields might dry up over night, rendering worthless costly appa- 
ratus; banks might refuse to risk money in so hazardous a business; 
prices might fall to disastrous levels; markets might become glutted; 
foreign oil fields might threaten to dwarf the whole American out- 
put, yet never once did John D. Rockefeller waver. 

Thirty years before Morgan grasped and acted on the combination 
method of doing business a la Steel Corporation, Rockefeller, with 
foresight, courage, and resourcefulness, introduced the combination 
idea in his sphere. One tottering concern after another was taken 
over by the new Standard Oil Company; its capital was doubled and 
then multiplied, its operations were extended east, west, and south, 
it opened up foreign territories, and, by camel and human transporta- 
tion, introduced the new illuminant into even the remotest parts of 
China, where the natives were supplied with oil lamps gratis. 

Only a company owning properties in different parts of the country 
could withstand the risks incidental to the oil business, since fire 
would wipe out a whole plant in a few hours or the flow at any one 
point could stop without notice. Only a large company could afford 
to spend millions in improving facilities, in constantly opening up new 
territory, and in reducing costs. Only a company such as the Stand- 
ard Oil could afford to build thousands of miles of pipe lines to do away 
with costly processes of shipping the fluid in barrels. Only such a 
company could afford to erect huge refineries which might have to be 
discarded at any moment. Only such a company could afford to de- 
sign and build expensive tank steamers for export trade and tank cars 
for domestic transportation. Only such a company could afford 


to send agents into every country of the world to create new markets, 
often against bitter opposition. Only such a company could under- 
take to supply large quantities with unerring regularity, notwith- 
standing the sudden disasters to which any and every oil property was 
liable. Only such a mammoth concern could cover the country with 
facilities to supply oil direct from the producer to the millions of small 

As Mr. Rockefeller quietly observed: "Our business didn't grow of 
its own accord. We didn't simply sit still and do nothing but draw 
in dividends. Our business grew for the same reasons that other suc- 
cessful businesses grow: our basic principles were right; we dealt 
justly with everybody and met our obligations promptly; we studied 
facts; we watched for opportunities and also created opportunities; 
we spared no expense and no effort to manufacture a product of the 
best grade; we did not shortsightedly curtail our market by charging 
exorbitant prices but constantly aimed at reducing them to a mini- 
mum so as to encourage wider and wider consumption; we allowed 
neither success nor temporary setbacks to cause us to lose our heads; 
and always we were careful to keep our financial condition sound and 
strong, resisting all temptation and all suggestions to put out unwar- 
ranted amounts of shares to foster speculation or create inflation. I 
can speak with more freedom about what was accomplished in later 
years, when our business grew to unimagined proportions, because I 
personally took very little active part in the management of it. I re- 
tired in the early nineties, before I was fifty-five, and have visited our 
offices only on rare occasions since." 

This is in no sense an attempt to describe the growth or the history 
of Standard Oil, but is merely a feeble effort to portray the person- 
ality of John D. Rockefeller, to bring out the humility of the man; to 
outline his early struggles, his extraordinary industry and vigilance 
to seize opportunities, his broad human sympathies, his deep sense of 
stewardship in the matter of the money that has come under his 
control, his insight into fundamentals and his clearheadedness in 
seeking primary causes rather than attempting to assuage evils. I 
can speak of Mr. Rockefeller only as I have found him. I do not pre- 
sume to pass judgment on all or any of the acts of the Standard Oil 
Company or those who followed Mr. Rockefeller in its active direc- 

I can say and do say and must say, however, that of all the eminent 
men abroad and at home that I have met, none has impressed me as 
possessing such breadth and depth of vision, both business and humani- 
tarian; none has manifested such intense anxiety to use his money and 
his influence for the permanent benefit of mankind; none has shown 
more kindliness and humility of heart; none has been so ready to put 


a charitable interpretation upon the acts and motives of others; none 
has been more free from everything savouring of arrogance or domina- 
tion; none has exhibited more unfailing readiness to do kindly little 
deeds and to say cheering little words to the lowliest and to children. 

"The days are not half long enough to do all that I find happiness 
in doing," Mr. Rockefeller remarked to me on the eve of his seventy- 
eighth birthday. "I can find happiness and contentment wherever 
I go, and it is a matter of extreme gratification to me that my son has 
become so genuinely interested in the things we have been trying to 
do through the Medical Institute, the Foundation, and other agencies 
to which some of the noblest men in the country are devoting their 
best effort, many of them busy business men who are directing this 
work without thought of reward." 


THE selling of a few watches by mail by a hard-working young 
station agent in Minnesota was the birth of the greatest 
modern mercantile wonder of the world. Seventy railroad 
cars are now needed daily to haul away the merchandize the organiza- 
tion sells. 

Its sales for 1916 exceeded $140,000,000, or almost half-a-million 
dollars every business day, all at retail — one pair of shoes, one suit of 
clothes, one dress, one sewing machine, one watch, one pound of tea, 
one piano, etc. The postman brings it in from 70,000 to 140,000 
orders every time the sun rises. 

It employs directly, at headquarters and in its factories, between 
30,000 and 40,000 people and, indirectly, even a larger number. 

A half interest in the enterprise was bought twenty-two years 
ago for $70,000 and although not another dollar of capital has since 
been invested in it the market value of its stock now is upward of 
$140,000,000 after the payment in dividends of many millions of 

Not a dollar's worth of goods is sold over the counter; every order, 
without exception, is sent by mail accompanied by check or post- 
office order in payment. 

This company's publications have a circulation through the United 
States far transcending those sent out by any other concern, not ex- 
cluding the annual sales of the Bible publishing houses — the 1916 
figure was in excess of 40,000,000 copies. 

Speaking of the Bible, I heard a story in Chicago the other day that 
the teacher of a Sunday-school in Minnesota asked her class : "Where 
did we get the Ten Commandments ?" Whereupon a little Swedish 
girl answered with great assurance: 

"From Sears and Roebuck!" 

There! That lets the cat out of the bag. This modern mercantile 
wonder is Sears, Roebuck and Company, of Chicago. 

And the miracle-worker behind it is Julius Rosenwald, its president. 

Mr. Rosenwald would resent being called a miracle-worker. He 
does not feel that he has done anything remarkable. He disclaims 
in all sincerity any great share of credit for what has been accom- 

"What one man can do to execute his ideas, or the ideas of others, 




is very little," Mr. Rosenwald rebuked me when I suggested that he 
had achieved something extraordinary. "The fellow at the top usually 
gets too much credit; often he gets credit for ideas that come from the 
brains of his fellow-workers. What could any one man do if there 
were not other men to carry out his and their own ideas? It is the 
able, willing fellows around a man at the top who really do things. 
I have played only a very small part in the building up of Sears, 
Roebuck and Company." 

A friend was riding home with Mr. Rosenwald one day as the more 
than 13,000 Chicago employees were pouring out of the principal 

"How does it feel, Mr. Rosenwald, to have so many people working 
for you?" the friend asked. 

"Why, I never think of it in that way," he replied; "I always think 
of them as just working with me." 

When the company entered into its present palatial buildings sev- 
eral of the executives felt it was not fitting that their president should 
have no rug or carpet on his floor. So they clubbed together, bought 
a magnificent Oriental rug, invaded his office, made a little speech, 
and presented him with their handsome gift. Greatly confused, 
he tried to thank them and to appear pleased at their thoughtful- 

The rug, tightly rolled, stood in a corner week after week and then 
disappeared! If linoleum-covered floors were good enough for his 
co-workers, they were good enough for him ! 

"The finest type of citizen in Chicago," is how one of the most 
eminent men in the city described Mr. Rosenwald to me. 

The most notable thing about Julius Rosenwald is not any super- 
human business ability, not any phenomenal smartness in seeing and 
seizing mercantile opportunities, not any transcendent qualities as a 
merchant. The greatest thing about Julius Rosenwald is not his busi- 
ness, but himself, not what he has but what he is, his character, his per- 
sonality, his sincerity, his honesty, his democracy, his thoughtfulness, 
his charity of heart, his catholicity of sympathy, his consuming desire 
to help the less fortunate of his fellow-creatures, be they black or 
white, Jews or Gentiles, young or old. 

In his business, Mr. Rosenwald takes great care and pride in advo- 
cating correct merchandising principles. Every illustration and every 
description in the Sears-Roebuck catalogue is compared minutely with 
the actual goods by experts employed for that special purpose. Ex- 
tensive and expensive laboratories are maintained to analyze scien- 
tifically and chemically every consignment of merchandise received, 
and, if the slightest defect in materials is detected, the goods are im- 
mediately rejected and returned — a rule that has taught manufac- 


turers to think twice before trying to make deliveries unfit to pass 
the severest inspection. Any customer not satisfied with a purchase 
can return the goods, and have his money refunded, including trans- 
portation charges both ways. The seller, you see, must therefore 
beware. He, not the buyer, takes the risk. 

Every conceivable kind of merchandise is handled by Sears, Roe- 
buck and Company, from a button to a bungalow — yes, bungalows are 
sold by mail. 

How has it been done? What is the history of this remarkable in- 
stitution ? 

Thirty-five years ago, in Minnesota, R. W. Sears, then a young 
station agent, conceived the idea of selling watches by mail. He had 
acumen enough to advertise intelligently. So his business boomed. 
He promised himself that when he had accumulated #100,000 he 
would retire. He did. But six months of idleness cured him; the 
ideal life, he discovered, consisted of doing things, not of doing noth- 
ing. He had agreed, however, not to connect his name with any mail- 
order business for three years. He got over this difficulty by entering 
into an agreement with a watchmaker friend named Roebuck, and 
the name A. C. Roebuck & Co. was given the new venture. At the 
expiration of the three years the name "Roebuck," having been ex- 
tensively advertised, was not dropped, a change being made to Sears, 
Roebuck and Company, although Mr. Roebuck was not a partner. 
Mr. Sears was a keen, progressive business man, and in time moved 
to Chicago, where he added various new lines, including clothing. 
All sales continued to be made by mail, however. 

Julius Rosenwald, then in the clothing business in Chicago, sold 
Mr. Sears large quantities of clothing. The mail-order demand for it 
expanded rapidly, and it was not long before Sears, Roebuck and 
Company — then consisting of Mr. Sears — had far more business than 
the capital could swing. He asked Mr. Rosenwald to become finan- 
cially interested. 

Mr. Rosenwald had learned to spot opportunities and to grasp them. 
From boyhood up he had displayed unusual initiative, enterprise, and 
industry. Before he was eleven he had taken little excursions on the 
sea of business. He used to peddle various odds and ends from door 
to door in his native town, Springfield, 111., where his father was in 
the clothing business. He did best with a new species of pictures, 
chromos, which then sprang into popularity. He turned his hand, 
however, to other things to earn an honest dime. For example, he 
used to pump a church organ for a woman organist who wanted to 

"I remember as if it were yesterday," said Mr. Rosenwald in dis- 
cussing those boyhood days, "how I made #2.25 selling a pamphlet 


programme the day President Lincoln's monument was dedicated in 
Springfield by President Grant. He was the first President I ever 
saw — and the first man wearing kid gloves." 

Julius evidently was even then not too young to take notice of 
matters pertaining to clothes. His first real employment was in a 
fancy-goods store during a summer vacation when he was fifteen. 

"What did you do with your money ?" I queried. 

"I saved it," he replied — hesitatingly, I noted. 

"And then what did you do with it?" I persisted. 

"I took it all, nearly $25, and bought a tea set for my mother's 
twentieth anniversary of her wedding." 

At sixteen he left school and went to New York to enter the whole- 
sale clothing house of Hammerslough Brothers, his uncles. He lived 
economically, and by the time he was twenty-one he had saved 
enough to acquire, with a little financial assistance from his father, a 
going retail clothing store on Fourth Avenue, a few doors from Brokaw 
Brothers. It did not prove a gold mine, but through incessant enegry 
it was made to pay fairly well. 

One day Mr. Rosenwald was talking with one of the owners of a 
business which made a specialty of summer clothing for men. "We 
have at least sixty telegrams for goods and we cannot begin to fill the 
orders," remarked this manufacturer. 

"This statement made an impression upon me," Mr. Rosenwald 
relates. "Here was a man getting more orders than he could supply. 
In the middle of the night I woke up and there and then resolved that 
that was a business worth getting into. I decided to sell the retail 
store and take up the manufacture of summer clothing." 

He formed a partnership with Julius E. Weil, also from Illinois, and 
figured out that, as there was no concern in Chicago in this line of 
business, that would be the best field. Rosenwald & Weil, manufac- 
turers and wholesalers of summer clothing, had to overcome the usual 
obstacles encountered by beginners, but in a year or two they were 
doing a large and profitable trade. From 1885 to 1895 Mr. Rosen- 
wald devoted himself exclusively to the growing activities of Rosen- 
wald & Weil, but then withdrew and branched out as a manufacturer 
of regular clothing under the name of "Rosenwald & Company." 
By this time Mr. Sears had become his most important customer. 

In 1895 Mr. Rosenwald and another man agreed to take a half 
interest in Sears, Roebuck and Company for $70,000. At first Mr. 
Rosenwald did not become an active partner but continued to look 
after his own affairs. The new capital enabled the mail-order enter- 
prise to expand to about $500,000 turnover within a year. Mr. Sears 
could not possibly look after everything, so in 1896 Mr. Rosenwald 
took up duty with Sears, Roebuck and Company as vice-president 


and treasurer, and on Mr. Sears's retirement in 1908 he became 
the president. Mr. Sears died a few years later. 

In the earlier days neither Sears-Roebuck nor any other mail-order 
house was fastidious about the wording of their advertisements or 
their catalogues. Illustrations and the articles illustrated did not 
always jibe. Merchandising morals all over the country were then 
on a distinctly lower standard than they are now. Mr. Rosenwald 
addressed himself to raising standards. And his code of ethics began 
to prove profitable. Honesty abundantly justified itself as the best 

The rejuvenated Sears-Roebuck introduced other improved 
methods of doing business. It rapidly extended its list of goods. It 
began to open factories of its own — it now has 20,000 employees in 
them. It engaged the best buyers and gave them almost limitless 
scope. It lengthened its mailing list, greatly enlarged its annual 
catalogue, and introduced special and other seasonal catalogues — 
and all the time kept raising and raising the quality of the merchandise 
sold. Also, it inaugurated the revolutionary policy "money-back-if- 
not-satisfied. ,, This courageous step sent sales up with a bound — 
they went from $11,000,000 in 1900 to over $50,000,000 in 1906, 
jumped to $100,000,000 in 1914 and have gained about 40 per cent, 
in the last three years. 

Who would have thought, for example, that shoes could be sold by 
mail ? The experiment was tried not very long ago and sales quickly 
reached over $1,000,000 a month — far ahead of the sales of any retail 
store in the world. Most of these shoes are made in the company's 
own factories. 

You will recall how Sears-Roebuck took hold of the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica and instituted a selling campaign on a scale the book 
world had never before known. This one item added over $5,000,000 
to the 1916 turnover. This was less the idea of Mr. Rosenwald, 
I should add, than of Albert H. Loeb, vice-president, another man 
of extraordinary ability. 

The labour-saving devices, the system, the mechanism throughout 
Sears-Roebuck's eclipse anything I have ever seen, even those of 
up-to-date automobile plants. 

Unlike some short-sighted presidents, Mr. Rosenwald has never 
sought to arrogate all power to himself. Department heads in Sears- 
Roebuck are given an amount of leeway unknown in most enterprises. 
They are encouraged to think up new ideas and are given a free hand 
to try them out. 

"We give opportunity to others to do things," said Mr. Rosenwald. 
"We place confidence in them, give them plenty of rope to work out 
their own ideas. Even if they do make mistakes occasionally, the 


results are better than if we were to dominate them with one person's 
ideas all the time." 

Mr. Rosenwald has very strict ideas about the deportment of em- 
ployees. He takes a fatherly interest in the thousands of girls in the 
place and rigidly enforces a cast-iron rule that any man, no matter how 
important, who attempts to abuse his position, dismisses himself; from 
this rule there is no appeal. Picnics or other social functions which 
would encourage familiarity between men and women workers are 
forbidden, although no concern does more in supplying facilities for 
wholesome amusement and recreation to its force. Indeed, the first' 
things you see when you approach the Sears-Roebuck property are 
athletic fields for baseball, tennis courts galore, recreation grounds, 
and beautiful gardens directly in front of the works. Elaborate 
facilities are provided for the feeding of thousands of employees at 
low prices. The women and men have separate tables, but in the 
same room. 

One day a visitor was dining with Mr. Rosenwald — the Sears- 
Roebuck lunches are good enough for him — when Mr. Rosenwald 
noticed a man and a girl at the same table. The president immedi- 
ately investigated. When he found that they were father and daugh- 
ter, both employees, he ordered the cafeteria manager to set apart a 
special table so that in such cases the two could lunch together every 
day without infringing the rules. 

Several thousands of the employees availed themselves of the op- 
portunity several years ago to buy Sears-Roebuck stock "on the 
ground floor," and its market value has more than quadrupled. 

Perhaps the crowning achievement of Mr. Rosenwald in connection 
with his co-workers is the "Employees' Savings and Profit Sharing 
Fund." Students of the subject have pronounced the plan the best 
ever conceived. Briefly, the employees who join agree to pay 5 
per cent, of their salaries into the fund and thus share in 5 per cent, 
of the Company's net earnings every year. On the basis of normal 
profits, the Company's contribution would be two dollars for every 
dollar the employees paid in. A worker receiving $20 a week, paying 
$1 weekly into the fund would, in fifteen years, receive for the $780 
paid in by him, $3,428. In thirty years, in return for $1,560 paid by 
him, he would receive $10,556! The conditions covering the working 
of the fund are extremely favourable to those joining it. 

In addition, all employees who earn under $1,500 annually receive 
an "Anniversary Check," which amounts to 5 per cent, of their 
annual salary on the fifth anniversary of their entering the service, 
6 per cent, on the sixth, and so on up to 10 per cent, on the tenth 
anniversary, and 10 per cent, every year thereafter. For example, a 
10-year employee earning $25 a week receives annually a check for 


$130. With the first anniversary check goes a gold badge, another 
badge is given at the end of ten years, another for fifteen years, and 
another to mark twenty years' service. These badges are given to all 
regardless of salary and are worn by the officers and long-term em- 
ployee with as much pride as a British soldier wears a Victoria Cross. 

"The besetting sin in America is extravagance," Mr. Rosenwald 
declared in explaining the introduction of profit sharing. "Our 
plan will bring home to our people the value of saving part of their 
earnings. It will encourage them and assist them to accumulate 
something, and will have a beneficial influence on their characters by 
stimulating them to deprive themselves, if neceassry, of some things 
they can get along without. If they want to withdraw their savings 
after a number of years, they can do so without waiting until they are 
gray-haired. After five years' service a girl who leaves to be married 
can withdraw her savings and also her share of the company's contri- 
butions. Men are entitled to withdraw their share of profits after 
ten years' service. 

"Don't imagine, however, that anything we do for our people in 
the way of profit sharing, or enabling them to acquire stock, or providing 
meals at low rates, medical attention, recreation grounds, vacations, 
and so forth, is done from philanthropic motives — not in the least. 
Whatever we do for our employees we do because we think it pays, 
because it is good business." 

That sounds businessy, quite cold-hearted, doesn't it? With all due 
respect to Mr. Rosenwald, I don't quite believe that those brave 
words represent the real truth and the whole truth. I suspect these 
various humane activities come from the heart rather more than from 
the counting house. In other words, sentiment has something to do 
with it. 

"The happy spirit that seems to pervade the place is part of the 
magnet that attracts me and keeps me in harness," Mr. Rosenwald 

In going through the Sears-Roebuck plant I was struck with the 
manifest cheerfulness of the workers. I remarked to one girl who 
was feeding thousands of sheets of paper into a printing machine 
that it must be terrible drudgery. "No," she replied with a smile, 
"it is like playing at work." 

"Don't your fingers get sore?" I asked. 

"No, I use a thimble, you see." 

Any concern that can instill into its workers such an intense 
spirit of loyalty and satisfaction that even the feeding of printing 
machines week after week and month after month is regarded as 
play and done with unqualified contentment has solved at least one 
phase of the labour problem. 


Let me cite one more instance of Mr. Rosenwald's attitude toward 
those for whose welfare he feels in some degree responsible. When 
the company in 1906 moved out to South Chicago, to its huge offices 
and warehouses there, Mr. Rosenwald was anxious that the place 
should not be surrounded with saloons. There was some objection, 
on the ground of "paternalism," to trying to regulate the habits of 
free-born citizens. Mr. Rosenwald, however, was persistent and 
finally it was agreed to promulgate a rule that no worker would be 
permitted to enter a saloon within eight blocks of the plant, a first 
infraction to be met with a warning and the second to be followed by 

One saloon, just eight blocks from the plant, tries to catch workers 
both going and coming, for it has one sign facing the works, 
"First Chance," and another sign facing the other way, "Last 

Mr. Rosenwald celebrated his fiftieth birthday on August 12, 191 2, 
by making gifts totalling $700,000 to various worthy organizations, 
including $250,000 to the University of Chicago, $250,000 for a 
Jewish Charity building on the west side of Chicago, $50,000 for a 
social workers' country club near Chicago, and $25,000 to Tuskegee 
Institute offshoots, including rural schools for Negro children. At the 
beginning of 191 1 he offered to contribute $25,000 for a coloured 
Y. M. C. A. building to every community in the United States which 
within five years would raise by popular subscription an additional 
sum of $75,000. More than a dozen cities qualified. 

What was described by the newspapers as the largest gift of the 
kind ever made was announced in March, 1917, by the American 
Jewish Relief Committee. Mr. Rosenwald agreed to contribute 
$100,000 for each $1,000,000 raised by the Committee in its campaign 
to collect $10,000,000, his total offer thus amounting to $1,000,000. 

Within the last two or three years he has built 150 small schools in 
rural communities, principally in very poor districts of the South. 
His purse knows neither colour nor creed. The late Booker T. Wash- 
ington found in Mr. Rosenwald, a trustee of Tuskegee Institute, one 
of his staunchest supporters, not merely financially but in solving 
various administrative and racial problems. 

One incident told me in Chicago is worth narrating as illustrative 
of Mr. Rosenwald's unostentatious way of doing things. A worthy 
head of a large Chicago congregation had more duties than he could 
overtake. A new automobile with chauffeur drove up to the divine's 
door one morning and the servant was told to inform her employer that 
his automobile was waiting for him. He told the servant that there 
was some mistake, that he had not sent for any car. The chauffeur 
insisted there was no mistake. Investigation brought out that Mr. 


Rosenwald had bought the car and had arranged to maintain it solely 
at his expense. 

Mr. Rosenwald is president of the Associated Jewish Charities of 
Chicago, an active worker in many civic, philanthropic, and educa- 
tional bodies, president of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Bureau 
of Public Efficiency and prominent in the Chicago Peace Society, yet 
President Wilson selected him as a member of the new Council of 
National Defence, and he at once began spending most of his time in 
Washington, toiling early and late to equip America's armed forces 
to take the field. His exhaustive practical knowledge of various 
branches of manufacture, especially clothing, has proved of inestim- 
able value to the Government. 

Chicago University has a Julius Rosenwald Hall — but not with the 
consent of Mr. Rosenwald. He never allows his name to be attached 
to any building or institution that he provides, but the Chicago Uni- 
versity authorities took advantage of his absence —he was in Palestine — 
to name the hall he had contributed toward "Julius Rosenwald Hall." 

The name of Sears, Roebuck & Company should really be Rosen- 
wald, Loeb & Co. I suggested this to Mr. Rosenwald. 

"No, no," he protested. "I want no monuments either outside of the 
cemetery or in it. Men are quickly forgotten when they die." After 
a pause, "And perhaps it is best so." 

A beautiful incident occurred while I was in Mr. Rosenwald's office. 
The telephone rang and his face immediately broke into smiles. 
Turning to me he said excitedly: "That was my mother. She is 
coming to see me. She hasn't been here in four years." From this 
on he kept glancing out of the window, and the moment she appeared 
he rushed to meet her. After that he ceased to act as president of 
Sears, Roebuck and Company. He became just "Julius" and all 
business, so far as he was concerned, was off. 

"Every morning in his life," one of his associates confided to me, 
"Mr. Rosenwald visits his mother before coming to work. And 
when he returns from out-of-town trips, no matter how we may be 
clamouring for him at the office, he first visits his mother, who is in 
her 85th year and active in mind and body. Mr. Rosenwald once 
remarked to me: 'I regard as a fresh gift from God every day He 
spares her to me.' " 

I know no finer type of American citizen than Julius Rosenwald. 



POLITICAL corruption was rampant in the state when he 
took hold; bitter warfare was being waged, not without loss 
of life, between the two dominating mining factions; rivalries 
and jealousies were rife; individual companies and labour had become 
lawless. He first routed the political antagonists, then bought out 
the entire business interests of the opposition and next harmonized all 
the internal differences and jealousies among the individual concerns 
and proceeded to build up what is now not merely the largest copper 
mining enterprise in the world, with an output of a million pounds of 
copper a day, but he developed it into a great, integrated industry 
comprising very important railroad, coal, lumber, and mercantile 
properties, as well as a producer of lead and zinc on a scale exceeded 
by few companies in the world." 

The man whose achievements were thus summarized is John D. 
Ryan, president of the Anaconda Copper Company (which supplies 
almost one-sixth of the world's total production), creator and upbuilder 
of the Montana Power Company and director of railroad, industrial, 
and financial organizations, including the great American Inter- 
national Corporation, whose directorate reads like a page from "Who's 
Who in Big Business." 

''After that," went on the business man here quoted, a man who 
was on the ground all through the transformation in Montana, "he 
threw himself into creating what is to-day the most efficient water- 
power enterprise in America, supplying 95 per cent, of all the electrical 
power used in Montana and, because of its low rates — the lowest 
charged anywhere — it has greatly advanced the general prosperity of 
the state. 

"And, although the public at large doesn't realize it, he has done 
more than any other man or any group of men in the United States 
to bring about the electrification of railroads, for it was the extraor- 
dinary success he attained in the complete electrification of his own 
company's railroad that led the St. Paul to undertake its wonderful 
project of operating its whole Rocky Mountain division by electricity. 
This is perhaps his greatest contribution to progress and civiliza- 

"How did he succeed in doing all this? By tact, nerve, and judg- 
ment; by the sheer force of his personality; by his ability to inspire 



confidence among all classes and factions, including labour; through 
his undeviating fairness to everybody." 

Having had a fairly comprehensive knowledge of his record, I 
asked Mr. Ryan to tell me something for the inspiration and perhaps 
guidance of others trying to win their way toward the top. 

"No!" replied Mr. Ryan, holding up both hands in protest. "I 
have not done anything worth talking about by way of an example 
to the youth of this country. You cannot write any picturesque 
story about me, picturing me sweating in miner's togs at the bottom 
of a shaft, for I never did a day's mining in my life. Nor was I a 
prodigy at school. Nor have I worked any harder than lots of other 

"Then do you want me to assume that you have got where you are 
because of influence " 

" Influence ! " broke in Mr. Ryan. " Influence is the worst handicap 
any young man can have. It tends to make him feel he need not 
exert himself to his full capacity and has a bad effect upon him. When 
other workmen learn that one of their number has a pull with some- 
body higher up, they look at him askance and the effect upon these 
other men is bad. Then the foreman, or whoever is over him, will 
either show him undue favours and push him into a position for 
which he is not fitted, or, if the boss is of a different stamp, he will 
hesitate to promote him even when he deserves it because the boss 
knows the others will think it is a case of favouritism. The effect, 
therefore, is bad upon the whole organization. .When any young 
engineer or college graduate or anybody else comes to me asking for a 
letter to enable him to get a job at our works I say to him just what 
I have told you." 

This character sketch of John D. Ryan is very different from others 
that have been printed about him. There is a reason. Mr. Ryan has 
never before outlined his career for publication, with the result that 
romance and fiction rather than fact have been written about him. 
Usually he has been pictured as a young giant who began work in the 
bowels of the earth and gained mining-camp fame for his ability to 
lick any cowboy or miner in the West, and, because of his prowess, was 
selected by New York capitalists as the best man to keep order around 
their turbulent mining properties. He displayed natural aptitude, 
so the legend runs, and was soon filling the post of mine manager. 
When the politicians became unruly, Ryan so tamed them that by 
and by they came and ate out of his hand while, incidentally, he 
completely routed from the state F. A. Heinze, the quondam copper 
king of Montana. As a reward, the young Lochinvar was made 
head of all the so-called Standard Oil mining properties. That is the 
picturesque John D. Ryan painted by imaginative writers. 


It seems almost a pity to have to puncture all this romance. Not 
that there are not real elements of romance in John D. Ryan's career. 
Is there not romance in the fact that a young man without money, 
without technical education, without financial training and with only 
the experiences of a travelling salesman, by dint of stick-to-itiveness 
and well-directed intelligence, won his way before middle life to part- 
ownership of a string of banks, earned the presidency of the foremost 
copper mining company in the world, built the most remarkable elec- 
tric power enterprise in the land, was elected to the directorates of a 
number of gigantic financial, railroad, and industrial organizations, and 
acquired a fortune running probably into eight figures? 

A record of this kind is not simply a freak of Fortune. Results 
usually have causes. 

I mentioned to him how he had been depicted as a veritable man- 
eater, a Samson who had only to lift his little finger to cow a whole 
campful of unruly miners, the very personification of courage — Ryan 
is a splendid example of manhood. 

"Rot!" he broke in. "I never had any rows with labour while I 
was at a mine and I never licked a miner or anybody else in my 

Mr. Ryan would stand for none of the heroic qualities the magazine 
writers had invested him with. Here are the facts. 

John D. Ryan came of mining stock. His father was the discoverer 
of what are now the Copper Range Mines of the Lake Superior dis- 
trict. Shortly after John was born, at Hancock, Michigan, on Octo- 
ber 10, 1864, the family moved to the Calumet & Hecla mine. Min- 
ing, however, had no particular attraction for the boy. His parents 
wanted him to go to college but he preferred to begin work. When 
seventeen he entered one of a number of general merchandise stores 
in the copper district of Michigan which were owned by an uncle. 
For eight years the future copper magnate weighed sugar, measured 
calico, and wrapped parcels behind the counter, working, as was 
then the custom, a full round of the clock daily. From this uncle, 
who was the leading merchant in that part of the country, he picked 
up more or less business information and insight, but he had no ambi- 
tion to become a Marshall Field. 

A brother and a sister having been obliged, because of ill health, 
to live in Denver, young Ryan, at twenty-five, decided to try his luck 
in that city. Fortune did not immediately smile on him. Month 
after month he looked in vain for a congenial job. 

"I was six months in Denver before I found employment to suit 
me — and I wasn't hard to suit either," was how he described his dis- 
couraging experience at this stage of his life. Then he got a start 
as a drummer, selling lubricating oil on the road. He travelled all 


over the Rocky Mountain section from Montana to Mexico, knowing 
little or nothing of home life for several years. 

"Wasn't that a trying, cheerless kind of existence?" I ventured to 

"Of course, it wasn't exactly a primrose path or rose-bed life, but 
I was not married then and it was easier for me than it would have 
been for most other fellows, because my father was well known among 
mining people, and, as miners move about a good deal, I met friends 
of his all over and this helped me in my business. 

"Among the good friends I met during that time was Marcus Daly, 
who was then building up the Anaconda organization. I sold him 
oils and in that way was thrown in contact with him." 

Mr. Ryan, contrary to the popular impression, never did a day's 
work for Daly in his life, nor did he work for Anaconda during Daly's 
lifetime. Daly did offer the hustling salesman employment on more 
than one occasion, but the offers were declined. The truth is that 
when Ryan was thirty he was not making, and had never made, more 
than $100 to $150 a month. 

When thirty-two he married Miss Nettie Gardner of his native 
town. After that he apparently developed bigger ambitions, for 
when Marcus Daly died the oil salesman conceived the idea of obtain- 
ing an interest in the Daly chain of banks. He used his own savings 
and borrowed freely from friends to buy out various minority stock- 
holders in the banks. This gave him general charge. 

Ryan's removal to Montana as directing head of the powerful 
Daly financial institutions brought him into contact with all classes 
of the community. In the volcanic atmosphere then prevailing he 
must have handled himself better than he will admit, for within three 
years Henry H. Rogers, one of John D. Rockefeller's most fearless 
partners, asked Ryan to take charge of the Amalgamated Copper 
Company's affairs in that state. 

The job was about as uninviting as any in the United States. 
Amalgamated had several fierce political fights on its hands; it was 
neck-deep in litigation with Fritz Augustus Heinze; labour conditions 
were unsettled and warlike; and the whole state was in a ferment, 
everybody being lined up either for or against one side or the other, 
Amalgamated or Heinze. 

Curiously, all Ryan's activities in the oil business had been in 
opposition to the Standard Oil people, his employment having been 
with their rivals. 

It was in 1904 that Ryan became managing director of the Amal- 
gamated Copper Company with entire charge of all its subsidiaries. 
His job was not merely to manage the mines, but to manage men as 
well. When the first election came after Ryan took charge, the 


Heinze faction was so soundly beaten that Ryan concluded Heinze, 
although no mean fighter, must realize he was completely licked and 
would, consequently, be in a mood to talk over terms of peace. 

So Ryan opened negotiations with Heinze to buy all his properties 
in Montana. Heinze was anxious to sell, but he wanted the deal 
arranged so as to create the impression that he was merely effecting 
a compromise and not selling out. Amalgamated was determined to 
eliminate Heinze entirely from the situation and would entertain no 
negotiations which would leave him a loophole to cause any further 
embarrassment in the conduct of the business. This Heinze-Amal- 
gamated deal forms so notable a chapter in America's mining and 
financial annals that I prevailed upon Mr. Ryan to tell exactly what 

"Because of Heinze's strong objection to have it appear that he 
had been bought out, and because of his insistence that the deal be 
represented as a merger, it was very hard to carry on negotiations 
that would remove Heinze root and branch," said Mr. Ryan. "The 
situation was relieved at times by a spice of humour. Heinze was 
mortally afraid that the miners in Butte would learn that he was pre- 
paring to sell out, as he was loudly promising to fight their battles for 
them if they would stand by him. He would never meet me except 
in the most out-of-the-way places. We never entered a building by 
the same door. He never came to my office and I never went to his. 
Instead, we would meet in the offices of one of our lawyers or in the 
rooms of friends. One of our most important sessions was held in 
Providence, R. L, because he was then staying at Newport and I was 
in New York and he did not want to run the risk of our being seen 
together at either place. 

"From the very opening of negotiations Heinze and I were friendly 
and, though many times we came very near breaking off, we continued 
to treat with each other in good faith. He never once broke his word 
to me. 

"After six months' negotiating we finally met one night, talked 
price from nine o'clock to three o'clock in the morning and reached an 

Amalgamated then (1906) bought all the Heinze mining properties 
in Butte except the Lexington Mines, which, being covered by an 
outstanding bond issue, could not be delivered by Heinze. The de- 
parture of Heinze was followed by the subsidence of political turmoil. 
This enabled Ryan to wash his hands of political campaigning and to 
devote his attention to developing the Amalgamated's increased 

"How did labour act?" I asked. 

"We had threats of labour difficulties, but in all the time I dealt 


with labour we had no strikes or lockouts. In fact, our mines never 
lost a day from labour troubles. We paid good wages and we got 
good service. Our relations with labour were most satisfactory. In 
fact, I have very little complaint to make over any dealings I have 
ever had with labour during all my connection with mining." 

Later on Montana did have serious labour disturbances, but they 
arose from a bitter struggle between the I. W. W. and the Western 
Federation of Miners for control of the Butte Miners' Union. This 
clash brought grave disorder, during which the Miners' Union Hall 
was wrecked by dynamite and the militia had to be called out to en- 
force order. The mining companies were not involved, the row being 
between the two unions. Amalgamated solved the problem by refus- 
ing to recognize either faction and declaring an open shop, for the first 
time in over thirty-five years. 

Mr. Ryan's effective work was rewarded by his selection as presi- 
dent of Anaconda. 

John D. Ryan was one of the few business men in America who did 
not even know in 1907 that there was a panic. He was stricken with 
typhoid fever in August of that year, was so ill for months that he 
learned nothing of what was going on, and did not return to duty 
until March of the following year. About the time this Amalgamated . 
giant recovered a still more powerful Amalgamated giant, H. H. Rog- 
ers, began to lose his health. By then Rogers had set such an ap- 
praisement upon his western "find" that he induced Mr. Ryan to 
come to New York to aid him in looking after this important branch 
of the Rogers activities. When Rogers died in the following year 
Ryan succeeded him as president of Amalgamated. 

One of Ryan's fortes is bringing scattered properties together under 
one efficient management, with capital enough to develop and expand 
them. He has a faculty for handling big things. It is both easier 
and more economical to handle one integrated, strong organization 
than to keep tabs on half a dozen or more smaller and weaker ones. 
Mr. Ryan believes that, industrially, in union there is strength. 

In Montana there was very special reason for merging numbers 
of important properties into one large concern, for there had been 
interminable disputes over encroachments by one company upon 
the underground ores of another as the mining lands were patchworks 
of claims held by different companies. While Anaconda had a large 
interest in several other properties, the stockholders were not the 
same in each case, so that it was impossible to run things without 
friction. At one time there were before the courts disputes involving 
almost $200,000,000. 

Ryan's fairness, ability, and personality had impressed themselves 
upon the whole community by this time, and when he set about 


evolving order out of all this muddle he was able to bring the various 
companies under the full ownership of Anaconda, a feat that called 
for the exercise of the most delicate diplomacy. After he had elimi- 
nated Heinze, Ryan had rigidly refrained from seeking revenge upon 
any former antagonists, and his magnanimous course at that time had 
won him the respect and the confidence of all factions. Had he 
proved vindictive or narrow on that occasion he probably never would 
have been able to bring the various companies together. 

In 1910 all the holdings of Amalgamated and all properties of sub-, 
sidiaries were merged into the Anaconda, and by 1914 it was feasible 
to dissolve the Amalgamated Copper Company. 

To-day Anaconda, in addition to producing 15 per cent, of the 
world's total output, is the largest producer of silver in the world, 
and its output of high-grade zinc exceeds that of any other mine in 
the world. Its metallurgical processes are admittedly the most 
advanced known, and to them is due in large measure the phenomenal 
increase in the company's profits during recent years. Anaconda, 
furthermore, has made large investments in other mining enterprises 
and is now heavily interested in properties in various parts of the 
United States as well as in South America, notably Chile. It is 
also, through subsidiaries, a great industrial and mercantile enter- 

During one of his shopping expeditions through the Southwest 
Mr. Ryan, in 191 2, was so struck with the Inspiration Copper Mine, 
then only a fledgling, that he invested extensively in it; already it is 
the third largest producer of copper in the world, and an idea of how 
good a bargain Ryan made may be gathered from the fact that in 
the first twelve months its profits were almost double the total cost 
of the property and its complete equipment. 

What is here recorded by no means adequately indicates Mr. 
Ryan's responsibilities or ramifications, since he is a power in 
several other important metal companies. 

If the man who makes two blades of grass grow where only one 
grew before is a public benefactor, surely a man who contributes in a 
large way to the general progress of the development of a state's re- 
sources is no less entitled to public recognition even though in both 
instances the primary motive has been profit rather than philan- 
thropy or public-spiritedness. Although Mr. Ryan's home is now in 
New York and he is condemned to live in that city most of the year, 
his heart is still in Montana. He has derived, perhaps, most satis- 
faction from his work in bringing into being the Montana Power 
Company and, in the space of six years, developing it into so efficient 
and so huge a concern that it can supply power to industries and rail- 
roads and general business in Montana at rates which give these in- 


terests an advantage over enterprises located in any other state in 
the Union. 

The world has heard a great deal about the electrification of 440 
miles of the St. Paul Railroad over the Rockies, but only railroad and 
electrical men know the genesis of this wonderful feat. 

John D. Ryan was its ancestor. 

When he had his Montana Power Company in working order he 
decided to electrify the Butte, Anaconda and Pacific Railroad, be- 
tween the mines in Butte and the smelters in Anaconda. Although 
there is only about 100 miles of track all told, this road handles a 
tremendous tonnage. As it was a system complete in itself, it lent 
itself ideally for experimental purposes. When the task of electrifying 
the road was completed, the experiment proved an unqualified suc- 
cess. Cost was cut to a minimum, efficiency reached a maximum. 
Railroad men and electrical engineers from all parts of the world 
came and studied the results. The St. Paul Railroad was peculiarly 
interested because of its almost insurmountable problems in hauling 
freight up the slopes of the Rockies. It has solved its prob- 
lems now by having Ryan's company supply it with electric cur- 

Montana Power now provides current for the operation of no 
less than 550 miles of railroad. Moreover, practically all the mines 
of Montana get their power from this project. It also lights most of 
the state. 

Indeed, it has functioned so much better than any similar utility 
company in the state that a committee of Congress two years ago 
haled Mr. Ryan before it and ordered him to confess whether or not 
the Company had a monopoly of the power business throughout the 

"Yes," Ryan replied to the astonishment of the probers. "It does 
95 per cent, of the business in its line in the state. It has a monopoly, 
not of the water-power resources of the state, but of the market, and 
it is a monopoly because the service it gives is so good and the charges 
are so low that there is no possibility of competition from any other 
water-power company or any other source." 

Before they were through, the investigators found that, under the 
advantageous terms given by the Ryan enterprise, the consumption 
of electric energy in Montana was greater per capita than in any 
other state or in any other country. 

"Hydro-electric development, the electrification of railroads, the 
discovery of improved metallurgical processes of one kind or another, 
are destined to make infinitely greater progress than is even dreamed 
of to-day," Mr. Ryan impressed upon me enthusiastically, for this is 
one subject on which he is not averse to talking In his imagination 


he sees mining, industry, transportation, and civilization as a whole, 
not so very many years hence, on a plane higher than matter-of-fact 
business men would dare to predict. 

I asked one of the originators of the American International Cor- 
poration, which is extending America's influence and achievements in 
foreign markets, why Mr. Ryan was picked as one of the directors. 
I wanted to know what his special qualifications were. The reply 
was: "John D. Ryan is one of the most level-headed fellows we have. 
He is, of course, one of the foremost men in the mining industry and 
is accustomed to handling international transactions; but, more than* 
that, he has an unusual amount of business sense. He is not fossilized. 
He is always on the job, thinking up new things and then going ahead 
and doing them. He has all the breezy progressiveness and enthu- 
siasm of the typical Westerner, and he combines with this the financial 
and business experience which he has imbibed here in the East." 

When the United States Government, early in 1917, sought to buy 
many millions of pounds of copper for military purposes, the first 
man approached, the Government representative later recorded, was 
John D. Ryan. His attitude was so satisfactory that the representa- 
tive had to see but one other man, Daniel Guggenheim, before receiv- 
ing assurance that the War Department would be supplied at less 
than half the price then current. "Those two men deserve all the 
credit," was the tribute the Government's representative paid them. 

Not a bad record for a mining camp boy who was only an oil drum- 
mer on the road at thirty-five and is not yet fifty-three? 


JACOB H. SCHIFF has peculiarities. 
He has never had a private secretary; he personally attends 
to every letter addressed to him, often giving first attention, 
not to business communications, but to charity mail. 

He has never subscribed to a press-clipping bureau and hardly ever 
looks at articles printed about himself or his activities. 

"I would like you to let me have a look at data about yourself, 
including the best sketches that have been written about your career," 
I said to Mr. SchifF when I found he had been named as one of 
America's "Fifty Foremost." 

"I have not kept one word printed about myself and I don't think 
my son or any one else has," replied Mr. SchifF. 

I expressed regret on the score that it was easier to make bricks if 
given some straw. 

"You don't need any data or any interview to write an article 
about me," Mr. SchifF commented. "You have known me very well 
for many years, you know all about me. And " — this with a twinkle 
— "if you like, I promise to read what you print." 

Mr. SchifF's claim to a place in America's Business Hall of Fame 
rests on several solid foundations. 

For over thirty years he has been head of one of the two most 
influential private international banking firms in the Western hemis- 
phere, and in this position has powerfully contributed to the building 
up of America's transportation systems which have done so much 
for our national development and enrichment. 

His house has raised capital for scores of transportation and indus- 
trial enterprises, and it is a Wall Street saying— one of Wall Street's 
rather few true ones — that Kuhn, Loeb & Company have issued more 
good investments and fewer bad ones than any other banking concern 
in America. 

Mr. SchifF's achievements as a financier, however, have been ex- 
celled by his record as a philanthropist. To this work he has contrib- 
uted not only millions, but a large portion of his life — his mind, his 
brain, his heart, his days, and probably not a few sleepless nights. 

On the day the great Northern Pacific panic in Wall Street reached 
its height the partners of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. frantically tried to get 
into touch with Mr. SchifF. He had not come down to his office; he 




was not at his home; he was not holding a conference with Harriman. 
Search discovered that he had gone to attend a meeting at the Monte- 
fiore Home. When his excited partners pounced upon him remon- 
stratingly, he calmly replied: "I thought the poor people up there 
needed me more than you people down here. ,, 

His fetich is not, as popularly supposed, Judaism, but citizenship. 
It is his creed that a man must first, last, and always be a good, loyal 
citizen, intensely zealous in discharging all the responsibilities of 
citizenship. With him citizenship ranks above sect. He holds that 
unless a man is a worthy citizen he cannot be either a worthy Jew or a 
worthy Gentile. Everything is secondary to citizenship. All his 
public service, all his givings to education, his continuous donations 
to charities, his endeavours for the promotion of the best literature 
of his race — all have been prompted by his sense of what citizenship 

Another characteristic of Mr. Schiff has been his loyalty to his 
friends. He is not a fair-weather friend. The giants of transporta- 
tion, of commerce, of finance, of railroading, once thrown into associa- 
tion with him, have remained staunch, close, confidential friends to 
the end. Mr. SchifF was the earliest financial sponsor of Edward H. 
Harriman; James J. Hill became closer and closer to him as the years 
rolled on; Alexander J. Cassatt, the creator of the Pennsylvania Rail- 
road system as New York now knows it, found in Mr. SchifF a whole- 
hearted supporter; Samuel Rea, Marvin Hughitt, Charles W. Eliot, 
and James Stillman are other tested-and-tried friends, while in his 
later years J. P. Morgan, although a rival in banking, came to regard 
Mr. SchifF as a financier whose tremendous influence could be relied 
upon for constructive efFort whenever financial foundations began to 
be shaken. 

He attends more funerals than any other financier in America. 
Wherever there is occasion for condolences, Mr. SchifF is among the 
first to tender them. Also, he never misses opportunity to ofFer con- 
gratulations on joyous occasions. 

Although Jacob Henry SchifF is seventy you would never suspect 
it. He can still pedal a bicycle fast enough to get him into trouble 
with the speed laws. As a walker, Weston would not find him disap- 
pointing. Mr. SchifF does not try to break records or blood vessels 
on the golf links: he is not a golfer. He attributes his sound, supple 
physique to moderation, to plenty of fresh air and daily "legomo- 

He was born in Frankfort-on-the-Main, a city famous as the cradle 
of financiers. His parents, who were neither very rich nor very poor, 
were not in the banking business; but another branch of the family 
was, and Jacob Henry was early initiated into the mysteries of finance. 


He was a bit restless, however, as he grew toward manhood, and when 
our Civil War ended he decided to come to the land which promised 
to offer limitless possibilities. He was eighteen then. 

He got a job as a bank clerk but had sense and push enough not to 
stick long at that cramped calling. He soon became junior partner 
of the brokerage firm of Budge, Schiff & Co. He worked hard, studied 
hard, and prospered. Young Schiff, in fact, was then recognized as 
one of the coming financiers of Wall Street. To broaden his experi- 
ence, he went to Europe for a stay. 

On returning, he joined Kuhn, Loeb & Co., already a banking house 
of prominence. Shortly after he married Therese Loeb, daughter of 
Solomon Loeb, the senior partner of the firm. He was then twenty- 
eight. Ten years later Mr. Loeb retired and his son-in-law, who had 
developed notably, was the logical successor. For over thirty years 
Mr. Schiff has piloted Kuhn, Loeb & Co. through fair and foul finan- 
cial weather, piloted it with a skill, foresight, and honesty that have 
raised it to the very foremost rank among the private banking houses, 
not only of the United States, but of the world. 

When Edward Harriman, the Stock Exchange broker, began to 
dabble in railroad properties, he had neither experience nor capital. 
But he had almost infallible judgment, the vision of a statesman, 
the enthusiasm of an artist, and the determination of a Spartan. 
Jacob H. Schiff was one of the first financiers to recognize that a new 
railroad Napoleon was entering the arena. 

Union Pacific in those days was a battered, bankrupt, decrepit 
stretch of rust. Few capitalists had faith in its possibilities. But 
Mr. SchifFs confidence in the future of the United States was as strong 
then as it is to-day and he took up the reorganization of Union Pacific. 
Harriman came knocking at the door, and, discerning in him a genius, 
Mr. Schiff extended to him the prestige and resources of Kuhn, Loeb 
& Co. Without this backing, it is doubtful if Union Pacific or the 
vast territory it serves would have enjoyed such remarkable pros- 

U. P. shares were then selling for a song. Both Harriman and his 
bankers acquired enormous quantities, and within ten years the stock 
netted a fortune for all its large holders. Indeed, it subsequently 
paid annually a dividend equal to the entire original cost. 

Southern Pacific and other railroads were corralled later. The 
Harriman-Kuhn-Loeb combination became the most powerful, the 
most aggressive, and the most successful that America had ever known. 
A railroad kingdom was being created without a parallel in the history 
of the world. 

Harriman made more than #10,000,000 every year in the later part 
of his life! When he died, in 1909, he left upward of #70,000,000. 


Mr. Schiff is estimated by fellow-bankers to be worth not so very 
much less, notwithstanding his princely gifts to various causes. 

Russia's harsh treatment of Jews had long incurred the ire of Mr. 
Schiff, so when war broke out with Japan he enthusiastically under- 
took the raising of loans for the Czar's enemy. Mainly through his 
efforts over $200,000,000 of Japanese bonds were sold here. 

As bankers for the Pennsylvania Railroad, IK., L. & Co. have 
floated as much as $100,000,000 at one time. It was this firm that 
found the money necessary to enable the Pennsylvania to tunnel its 
way into New York and to raise that modern world's wonder, the 
Pennsylvania Railroad station. Mr. Schiff had great admiration for 
Mr. Cassatt, the bold dreamer who turned his dreams into stone and 
steel and structures. Incidentally, during all the years of association 
between the Pennsylvania Railroad and Kuhn, Loeb & Co. never once 
has there been even a suggestion of improper profits, disastrous finan- 
cial advice, or questionable manipulation of securities. 

It was Mr. Schiff's firm that placed $50,000,000 of Pennsylvania 
bonds in France and had them listed on the Paris Bourse, a step beset 
with inordinate difficulties but one which had mutually satisfactory 
results. After the war broke out an offer was made to repurchase 
these bonds and a majority of them came back. 

Kuhn, Loeb & Co. have done heavyweight financing, also, for such 
railroads as Baltimore & Ohio, Chicago & North Western, Delaware 
& Hudson, Illinois Central, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, etc. 

Mr. Schiff has been fortunate in having brainy partners, namely, 
Otto H. Kahn, Paul M. Warburg (brother-in-law), now of the Federal 
Reserve Board, Felix M. Warburg (son-in-law), Jerome J. Hanauer, 
and Mortimer L. Schiff, who is one instance of an able son following an 
able father. 

I have already touched upon Mr. Schiff's philanthropies. The 
public may be interested to know that, while Mr. Schiff has given away 
millions, he frowns upon wasting one penny. One of his idiosyncrasies 
is his habit, when he opens his mail, of carefully preserving all unused 
pages of letters as a substitute for pads. Doubtless, most young 
readers will smile at this little foible, but does it not point a moral in 
these extravagant days ? If such economy is not despised by a multi- 
millionaire, can those less well-off afford to scoff at it? It may be 
that Mr. Schiff's carefulness in saving pennies has had something to 
do with his ability to save millions. 

Mr. Schiff was the first treasurer of Barnard College. He founded 
the Semitic Museum at Harvard and the Jewish Theological Seminary 
in New York. He is vice-president of the Baron de Hirsch fund and 
a trustee of the American Jewish Committee. He is president of the 
Montefiore Home for Chronic Invalids. 


His sense of civic responsibility influenced him to become a forceful 
member of the Second Committee of Seventy, the Committee of 
Fifteen, and the Committee of Nine. In later years he has been chosen 
frequently by Mayors of New York as a member of special mayoral 
committees. He was a member of the Board of Education under 
Mayor Strong. In the work of the Chamber of Commerce he has 
taken an active part, as vice-president and on committees, for a genera- 
tion. The establishment of a College of Commerce has been a project 
very near his heart; if others had come forward with offers of contri- 
butions as he did, New York would have had such an institution years 

Colleges, hospitals, libraries, charitable organizations, the Red Cross, 
and the Chamber of Commerce have all benefited from Mr. SchifFs 
widely bestowed gifts. He does not make a "splash" with his do- 
nations; his contributions are very largely to meet current expenses 
and in many cases are made regularly every year. To commemorate 
the fiftieth anniversary of his arrival in America he presented a 
$500,000 building to Barnard in preference to doing anything for one 

And now comes a tragic part of the chronicle. 

Mr. SchifF does not believe that the Jews in America should seek 
to hold themselves apart. He condemns everything tending to foster 
racial separateness. He urges that every Jew must be an American 
citizen first, a Jew second. 

In an impassioned speech in 1916, replying to criticisms by his 
own people, he declared with feeling: "We hold our Jewry, our flag, 
as high as our fathers did, but we recognize that we are Americans, 
and we want our children to be Americans. We want our children 
to love our religion. We want them to be able to read in the original 
language our laws and our codes, but we also want them to think in 
English, to read in English, to. adopt American ways." 

So hurt was Mr. SchifF by the ingratitude manifested by some of his 
co-religionists that he felt constrained to announce that henceforth 
he would "have no part in Zionism, nationalism, the congress move- 
ment and Jewish politics in whatever form they may come up." 

How deep the stabs have entered Jacob SchifF' s heart cannot be 
fathomed by those who do not know the man. To find himself the 
object of ingratitude, criticism, and condemnation by some of the very 
people from whom he had reason to receive gratitude has wounded 
Mr. SchifF grievously. 

His experience is reminiscent of what the late J. P. Morgan under- 
went when he was indicted for conspiracy in the Grand Trunk-New 
Haven Railroad case. Mr. Morgan, then, like Mr. SchifF, almost 
seventy, was heartbroken, inconsolable. He could not leave his bed. 


He wept, and from an aching heart wailed: "To think that after all 
these years I have been branded by my own Government a criminal, 
fit only to be thrown into jail!" Had not Charles S. Mellen come 
forward and shouldered the whole responsibility, it is doubtful if the 
aged financier would have recovered. 

One accusation brought against Mr. SchifF has been that he was 
"dictating to the Jews of New York what they ought to do." Whether 
Mr. SchifF, with his peculiar — and, to my mind, not wholly wise — 
attitude toward the press and the public thought it necessary, when 
doing the right thing, to be punctilious to do it the right way; whether 
it ever occurred to him that his enormous power made him vul- 
nerable to charges of autocracy, I cannot say. Perhaps the possi- 
bility of being misunderstood never entered his head. 

I do know that he is among the best friends the Jews of America 
have ever had; that for years he has spent as much time in their 
behalf as in attending to his banking business; that the most eminent 
Jews of Europe regard Jacob H. Scruff" as one of the foremost leaders 
of their race in the whole world, as something of a modern Moses; 
that the educational, the charitable, and the social facilities for Ameri- 
can Jews would not have reached their present state but for the 
thought, toil, exhortation, and benefactions of Mr. SchifF; that he 
has, without blowing of trumpets, helped many a poor Jew and 
Gentile, black as well as white, out of his own purse, and that he is 
held in affectionate regard by a large part of the masses familiar with 
his charitable works. 

I do know, in short, that Jacob SchifT is a man whom any race might 
well be proud to call its own. 

In presenting him for the degree of Doctor of Commercial Science 
at the New York University in June, 1916, Vice-Chancellor Stevenson 
thus summed up Mr. SchifFs services: 

"Jacob Henry SchifF, in this land of your adoption you have won a 
place of acknowledged leadership in financial and commercial pur- 
suits. For enterprise and breadth of vision, for probity and worth, 
for the patronage of learning, for fidelity to the best traditions of 
your race, and for altruistic service that transcends the boundaries of 
race and religion, New York University bestows upon you the degree 
of Doctor of Commercial Science and directs that your name be added 
to the roll of her alumni." 

Elaborate preparations were made by Jewish, civic, commercial, 
and other bodies to do honour to Mr. SchifF on his seventieth birthday, 
January 10, 1917. But it was characteristic of him that he refused 
to be feted in any way. To avoid any fuss being made over him, 
Mr. SchifF quietly left the city on the eve of the anniversary day! 

I happened to call upon him at his office just as he was preparing 


to slip away. Naturally I asked why he would not let fellow-citizens 
join in paying him the tributes they desired. Mr. SchifFs reply 
reveals his personality: 

"There are any number of people who would like to do just as 
much as I have ever done, but who have not had it within their power. 
Because God has blessed me with the means to do something for 
others, that is no reason why I should set myself up to be praised 
or feted for doing it." 

On the day Mr. Schiff reached seventy, checks from him reached an 
undisclosed number of worthy organizations. How much he thus 
distributed he would not state, but announcement after announce- 
ment came from recipients until a total of #500,000 was revealed, 
including four gifts of $100,000 each. 

Men in all walks of life sent Mr. SchifF birthday congratulations 
and paid tribute to his worth as a citizen, as a valuable force, to quote 
Mayor Mitchel's words, "in the forefront of those public movements 
in the city during the last twenty-five years out of which has evolved 
its civic progress." Almost an entire issue of the American Hebrew 
was devoted to the publication of appreciations of Mr. SchifF by 
noted Jews and others both in Europe and here. Israel Zangwill 
expressed the general sentiment felicitously in these words: "Con- 
gratulations on such a birthday fall rather to the world which has 
still the privilege of Mr. SchifFs presence than to the man him- 
self." Secretary of the Treasury McAdoo described Mr. SchifF as 
"a rare combination of the financier and the altruist," "at once a 
philosopher and a philanthropist," "a progressive and a patriot, who 
never hesitates to put country above party and who never fails to 
enlist in a worthy cause." Another well said that to make a just 
estimate of Mr. SchifF as a philanthropist would mean to write the 
history of Jewish philanthropy for the last forty years. 

Grievously as the European war has weighed upon Mr. SchifF, it 
has brought one compensating event of immeasurable moment. 
"The Russian revolution is possibly the most important event in 
Jewish history since the race was brought out of slavery," declared 
Mr. SchifF. It has caused him to revise some of his views concerning 
the future of the Jewish people. 

"It has come to me," Mr. SchifF told an audience just after the 
revolution, "while thinking over events of recent weeks — and the 
statement may surprise many — that the Jewish people should at last 
have a home land of their own.. 

"I do not mean by that that there should be a Jewish nation. I 
am not a believer in a Jewish nation built on all kinds of isms, with 
egoism as the first, and agnosticism and atheism among the others. 
But I am a believer in the Jewish people and in the mission of the 


Jew, and I believe that somewhere there should be a great reservoir 
of Jewish learning in which Jewish culture might be furthered and 
developed, unhampered by the materialism of the world, and might 
spread its beautiful ideals over the world. 

"And naturally that land would be Palestine. If that ever de- 
velops — and the present war may bring the development of this ideal 
nearer— it will not be accomplished in a day or a year, and in the 
meantime it is our duty to keep the flame of Judaism burning 

When the American Jewish Relief Committee launched its cam- 
paign to raise #10,000,000 for Jewish victims of the war, Mr. Schiff 
invited to dinner several hundred of the most prominent members of 
the race, made a stirring appeal, announced a personal contribution 
of #100,000 and so aroused the gathering that over #2,500,000 was 
pledged on the spot. Mr. SchifFs donation, he specified, would be 
used in establishing a hospital unit in Russia "in recognition of the 
emancipation of the Jew, won through the revolution." 

In presenting a loving cup to Mr. and Mrs. Schiff at Newport, R. 
I., in the summer of 1917, the spokesman said: 

"Many times has the city of Newport been honoured by the pres- 
ence of distinguished guests, and it is honoured now by the presence 
of two persons who have devoted their lives to charity and philan- 

That simple final clause forms a fitting close to this brief sketch of 
Jacob H. Schiff. 


THERE is only one man in the world who ever tore up a 
#1,000,000 a year salary contract. 
When the United States Steel Corporation took over the 
Carnegie Company it acquired as one of its obligations — it really was 
an asset — a contract to pay Charles M. Schwab that unheard-of 
sum as a minimum annually. 

J. P. Morgan didn't know what to do about it. The highest salary 
on record was $100,000. He was in a quandary. 

Finally, he summoned Schwab, showed him the contract and hesi- 
tatingly asked what could be done about it. 

"This," said Schwab. 

He tore it up. 

That contract had netted Schwab $1,300,000 the previous year. 

"I didn't care what salary they paid me. I was not animated 
by money motives. I believed in what I was trying to do and I 
wanted to see it brought about. I cancelled that contract without 
a moment's hesitation," Mr. Schwab explained to me. 

There was a sequel. Morgan later told Carnegie how magnani- 
mously Schwab had acted. Carnegie remarked; "Charlie is the 
only man I know who would have done that." 

And he promptly sent Schwab in bonds the full amount of the unex- 
pired contract. 

Carnegie has declared publicly since: "I owe my fortune chiefly 
to two men, Bill Jones and Charlie Schwab." 

Schwab, let me add, for years picked all the Carnegie partners. 
Indeed, the only man to whom the canny Scot ever gave carte 
blanche was Schwab. 

Although rich beyond his wildest imaginings, Schwab is to-day the 
hardest- working man in the steel industry. Why? Let him answer: 

"Why do I work? What do I work for? I have more money than 
I can begin to spend. I have no children, nobody to leave it to. 
My wife is rich enough in her own right. She does not need it. I 
do not need it. I work just for the pleasure I find in work, the satis- 
faction there is in developing things, in creating. Also, the associa- 
tions business begets. The man who does not work for the love of 
work but only for money is not likely to make money nor to find 
much fun in life." 







Since much foolishness has been printed on the subject, let me — 
let Mr. Schwab rather — clear up this other point: Why did he give 
up the Steel Corporation presidency after three years ? 

Here is the plain truth, as told me by Mr. Schwab, who has never 
been accused of lying: 

"I never had a difference with Mr. Morgan in my life. We were 
always the closest possible friends. The reason I resigned was be- 
cause I could not do what I had been doing all my life. I was ham- 
pered by directors and other interests who did not give me sufficient 
play to enable me to be useful. If I thought a mill ought to be built 
at Pittsburgh I didn't want an important director telling me it ought 
to be built at Chicago. If I had a strike involving a principle, I 
didn't want to be told to settle it for fear it might affect the stock 
market. So I quit." 

Fate had greater things in store for him. To-day Schwab is ranked 
as one of the greatest creative forces in American industry. Also, 
he is perhaps the most popular business man in the country. 

He has had more "titles" conferred upon him than any other living 
American. For example, "The World's Greatest Steel-Maker," 
"The Most Successful Salesman Ever Born," "The Million-Dollar- 
Salary Man," "The Originator of the Steel Trust," "The Boy Presi- 
dent," "The Developer of Young Men," "The Creator of the Ameri- 
can Krupp's,""The Defender of America," "The Incurable Optimist," 
"The Man With the Golden Smile," "The Bethlehem Miracle- 
Worker." > 

This article might well be called "The Truth About Schwab." 
His picturesque career has inspired so much fiction that it is gratifying 
to be able to dissipate the fables and to set the record straight. 

The Schwab family moved from Williamsburg, Pa., where Charles 
Michael was born on February 18, 1862, to the picturesque hamlet 
of Loretto, Pa., on a crest of the Alleghanies, when the future steel 
king was a little lad. On leaving the local school he spent two years 
at St. Francis College. As with many men destined to make a mark, 
he became enamoured of mathematics. He also found chemistry 
fascinating. Engineering problems became his hobby. 

But, alas, instead of landing in a collar-and-cufF position where he 
could use his knowledge and talent, he was obliged, at sixteen, to 
mount the driver's seat of a coach his father ran between Loretto and 
Cresson Station. Undiscouraged, he cracked jokes as well as his whip. 

His first real job was as a grocery-boy in the store at Braddock 
of A. H. Speigelmire, an old friend of Papa Schwab, who also kept a 
store. From the first day he donned his apron he had his eye on the 
great steel mills there, the Edgar Thomson Works, owned by Carnegie 
Brothers & Company. But meanwhile, although he disliked the 


work, he contrived to liven up things at the store. He smiled on 
customers, chatted with them, jumped at chances to please them by 
carrying parcels or doing little errands, and in the evenings he made 
things pleasant in the Speigelmire household by playing the piano, 
singing for them, and teaching the youngsters music. "He's willing 
and bright and wants to know everything," was his employer's 
description of him. The mathematician was not above learning how 
to handle groceries. He well earned his $30 a month (without board). 

One day Captain William R. Jones, then superintendent of the 
steel works, the right-hand man of Andrew Carnegie, and the best- 
known steel-maker in the country, stepped into the store. 

"I asked 'Bill* for a place in the mill," Mr. Schwab relates, "He 
asked me: 'Can you drive stakes?' I replied: 'I can drive any- 
thing!' I started driving stakes next morning, at a dollar a day." 

In six years the dollar-a-day stake driver was superintendent of 
the works, then the foremost steel-making plant in America! 

"They say it was your piano-playing that attracted Carnegie?" I 

"There's no truth in that at all," replied Mr. Schwab with spirit. 
"I never played for Mr. Carnegie in my life. It was Captain 'Bill* 
that took me to Carnegie one day and said: 'Andy, here's a young 
man who knows as much about this mill as I do.'" 

Carnegie, like Captain "Bill," "took to" the young engineer. So 
did the men. Everybody was happy when "Charlie" was around. 
His enthusiasm, his joyousness, his industry proved infectious. ' His 
ability to overcome difficulties was on every one's tongue. He had 
continued his study of chemistry and engineering, had conducted in- 
numerable experiments to test the strength and qualities of the metal 
under different processes, and, as Carnegie later handsomely admitted, 
"knew more about steel than any other man in the world." 

His next step was to the head of the engineering department of the 
whole Carnegie organization. Here he taught the industry a new 
wrinkle. He conceived and planned a greater plant than any then 
in existence, the Homestead Steel Works, on the principle of feeding 
the raw material at one end, keeping it in continuous motion, and hav- 
ing it come out in the form of finished products at the other end — a 
system since widely adopted in various industries. At this time he 
had some 6,000 or 7,000 men under him. 

All this at twenty-four! 

When the Carnegie management was confronted with the nerve- 
shaking problem of re-opening the Homestead Works after the terrible 
strike of 1892, when the successful handling of the men appeared im- 
possible, they turned to young Schwab, appointed him superintendent 
of the plant, and told him to see what he could do. 


Do! Why, there was only one thing for Schwab to do — turn every 
workman into a rooter and make the plant the most pleasant and 
profitable in the world. The Schwab smile, the Schwab cordiality, 
the Schwab radiancy, the Schwab sincerity, the Schwab enthusiasm, 
plus the Schwab ability amounting to genius, won all hands and all 
hearts. The younger Pitt never showed greater tact, diplomacy, and 

Election to the presidency of the Carnegie Company, the greatest 
prize .in the whole steel industry, was his reward. He had won it in 
fifteen years from his debut as a dollar-a-day stake driver, won it by 
basic study of the metal and of men, won it by hard work with a will 
and a smile, won it by sheer achievement in evolving methods of 
producing steel faster, cheaper, and in greater quantities — and in 
keeping workmen happy and loyal at their tasks. At thirty-five 
Schwab stood on the top step of the steel ladder. 

His fame was international. Whereas England was master of the 
world's steel markets when Schwab was stake-driving, he had now 
done much to change that. His brilliantly conceived Homestead 
plant, though paying wages thrice those of Europe, could meet the 
keenest of European competition. The United States, indeed, was 
now clipping England's wings. 

Arthur Keen, the foremost steel manufacturer in Britain, ap- 
proached the young American genius with an offer of a fabulous 
salary — greater far than any salary paid any man in any country. 
Schwab told him nothing could tempt him to leave his friend and 
benefactor, Carnegie, with whom by this time he was on terms of 
filial intimacy and affection. To nobody did Schwab mention the 

Keen and Carnegie met later at a dinner of the British Iron and 
Steel Institute and Keen related the incident. 

"If Charlie is worth that much to you, he is worth more to me," 
was, in effect, Carnegie's reply. 

The moment he got back he sent for Schwab, told him he loved him 
all the more for his loyalty — and gave him a long-term contract 
worth a minimum of $1,000,000 a year! 

But Charles Michael Schwab had still greater dreams. Why not 
make the United States the foremost steel-producing country in the 
world, able to meet and beat Europe in foreign markets ? 

In his fertile mind he conjured up a vision such as the world had 
never known, a vision of the greatest, strongest industrial organization 
on earth, coordinated, integrated, self-contained, with abundant 
capital, the best of brains, and ramifications covering the globe. 

Fascinated, he began to act. His first overtures were repelled by 
J. P. Morgan and others. But Schwab, as Carnegie was and is fond 


of saying, "can hurdle any obstacle." At a dinner given in his 
honour in December, 1900, he glowingly laid his vision before the 
greatest financiers and business men in America. He was as one 
inspired. Donning the mantle of a prophet, he pictured the glorious 
possibilities of the new steel age. 

His entrancing outline of the Steel Trust captivated Morgan. And 
within a few months the billion-dollar United States Steel Corporation 
was formed, with Schwab as its president and the owner of #28,000,000 
(par value) of its capital stock. This at thirty-nine! He was "The 
Boy President." 

On resigning in impaired health at the end of three strenuous years 
after the great machine was functioning, he announced publicly: "I 
propose to devote my whole attention to regaining my strength and 
won't take any position until it is restored." 

He rested, though he was not wholly idle, for two or three years 
before reentering the business arena, at South Bethlehem, Pa. 

Miracles have been wrought at the Bethlehem Steel Works, all 
the world knows. The world imagines Charles M. Schwab has 
wrought them. The world is mistaken. The miracles have been 
wrought by others — by fifteen young partners. So Mr. Schwab 
stoutly declares. 

"There has really been nothing wonderful about my career," pro- 
tested Mr. Schwab when I broached the subject. "I am not a be- 
liever in genius. I believe Solomon was right when he said: 'The 
race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong/ Circumstances, 
environment, opportunity, have a lot to do with a man's success in 

"But of course there are qualities that go to make a man really 
successful. A man must have personality — that is very important. 
He must have industry, application, and commonsense — no man can 
do much if he has not been endowed with a reasonable amount of 
brains. He must earn a reputation for unimpeachable integrity, he 
must tell the absolute truth, he must cultivate good-fellowship, he 
must be a man other men will like and trust. Optimism, cheerfulness, 
readiness to encourage and inspire others also help. 

"Any man can learn to do anything that any other man has done 
if he will apply himself to the doing of it. 

"I happened to be fortunate in getting into an industry in its in- 
fancy that offered phenomenal opportunities, that's all. And I took 
risks: 9 

"How?" I asked. 

This started Mr. Schwab on the story of Bethlehem's upbuilding. 
The Bethlehem Steel Company was bankrupt when Schwab took 
hold of it last time — he bought control once before, when he was with 


the Steel Corporation, sold out to the ill-fated United States Ship- 
building Company, and took it back when that enterprise collapsed. 

"When I took hold of Bethlehem the second time I didn't take one 
well-known steel man from anywhere. I selected fifteen young men 
right out of the mill and made them my partners. I believe in profit 
sharing — I believe it will ultimately settle the labour problem. 
Andrew Carnegie was the most successful profit-producer in this 
country and he gave his employees half of his profits in bonuses. 

"If you want anything well done in life don't engage a man of 
great reputation to do it. Get a man who has his reputation to 
make; he will give you his very best individual, undivided effort. 

"Of the fifteen I selected not one has proved a failure. I am proud 
of that and proud of them. One of them was a crane fellow at #75 a 
month. He is now earning five times as much as any other steel em- 
ployee in the United States and is several times a millionaire. This 
is Eugene G. Grace, president of the Bethlehem Company and the 
man chiefly responsible for its success. He is fifty times the man I 
ever was." 

I smiled. 

"I mean that," Mr. Schwab affirmed. 

Mr. Schwab didn't say that he closed up his palatial home on River- 
side Drive, migrated to the obscure Pennsylvania village, took off 
his coat and worked day and night for eight years, often against finan- 
cial and other discouragements, nursing the bankrupt Bethlehem 
back to health and strength. 

"I backed Bethlehem with every dollar I had and could borrow," 
Mr. Schwab went on in reference to his having taken risks. "I put 
my own name to every piece of paper issued. Then, also, I took hold 
of Gray's invention for making structural steel after every important 
company in the country had turned it down and, because I was con- 
vinced I was right, I spent $15,000,000 for the proving of that one 
invention. Was that not taking risks? But it gave us the leadership 
in the structural steel business in the United States and in the world. 
There had never been a conspicuously successful steel plant in the 
East. But I believed Bethlehem had all the elements of success. 
It is some satisfaction to have proved that my judgment was right." 

I cannot attempt to describe Mr. Schwab's activities of the last ten 
years — how he worked at the plant early and late encouraging and 
enthusing his men; how he evolved the most scientific cost-ascertaining 
and profit-sharing plan ever adopted by any great enterprise; how he 
crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific, booking greater 
orders than any other man ever aspired to secure; how he went straight 
to Kitchener when the war began, told him a few useful truths, and 
came back with enough business to boom Bethlehem as it had never 


boomed before. I can mention merely a few facts about the Bethle- 
hem Steel Corporation and its activities. 

Schwab has spent well over $100,000,000 in strengthening and 
expanding it and in acquiring subsidiaries. 

Expenditures totalling $100,000,000 were sanctioned in 1916 to 
cover the ensuing few years. 

The corporation (with subsidiaries) employs 75,000 men all told. 

Its annual pay-roll exceeds $80,000,000, or nearly $7,000,000 a 

It is a greater producer of engines of war than the far-famed 
German Krupp's. 

It is now, in conjunction with its subsidiaries, and its properties 
in Chile and Cuba, next in size to the United States Steel Corporation. 

Its shipbuilding companies on both coasts give it 40 per cent, of 
America's total shipbuilding facilities. 

Its war orders from the Allies are unofficially computed at 

Bethlehem Steel to-day forms a bulwark for the United States. 
Said Mr. Schwab in June, 1917: 

"Bethlehem Steel is to-day putting $20,000,000 into plants entirely 
for the use of the Government. In peace time such plant will have 
no value, but there are times when more than the business view is 
necessary. We know that this work ought to be done, and we are 
doing it. 

"We feel that the plants of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation for 
ordnance making, for steel manufacture, and for shipbuilding — for we 
build nearly 40 per cent, of all the tonnage of ships turned out in the 
United States — constitute a national asset of supreme value at a 
crisis like this. It is our ambition to make that asset of the greatest 
possible effectiveness in assuring for our country and for our allies an 
overwhelming victory in this, the greatest of all wars. 

"Business must be profitable if it is to continue to succeed, but the 
glory of business is to make it so successful that it may do things 
that are great chiefly because they ought to be done. We at Bethle- 
hem are trying to conduct a profitable business, but, profit or no 
profit, Bethlehem Steel has volunteered to serve the American Govern- 
ment, and to that service we dedicate every man and every material 
resource which we can control." 

On the same occasion — a talk to a salesmen's congress — Mr. 
Schwab made this statement, illuminative of his humane qualities: 

"I may induce you to buy large quantities of goods from me, but 
unless I can induce my organization, down to the humblest workman, 
to want to produce those goods economically and efficiently, my skill 
in selling you the goods is wasted. 


; "One of our great efforts at Bethlehem is to seek to instil confidence 
and enthusiasm in our own men. 

" Bethlehem has prospered, but the fact about Bethlehem in which 
I most keenly rejoice is that our men also have prospered. The aver- 
age earnings of each wage-earner in our employ was in 191 5 a little 
over #900, whereas for 191 6 the average earnings were over $1,200 
per man, an increase of more than 30 per cent, in one year. Since 
January 1, 191 7, we have increased the wages of our men another 
10 per cent. 

"These large earnings have been realized because in every instance 
possible the man obtained a share of the profits which he helped to 
create. And that is one of the reasons why our men have not only 
been prosperous, but enthusiastic in their work. 

"The labour problem is far from being solved, but if the managers 
of industry can develop some universal plan which will make labour 
not only well-paid but happy in doing the work itself, one of the 
greatest possible boons to mankind will have been realized." 

Bethlehem's $15,000,000 common shares rose from $25 before the 
war to $600 in 191 5, making many Schwab followers millionaires 
and eclipsing the record of all other "war stocks." The company 
now pays dividends of 30 per cent, a year on its increased common 
stock, $60,000,000. 

Schwab early in the war was offered $53,000,000 for his holdings — 
said to be approximately 90,000 preferred and 60,000 common — with 
the choice of remaining at the head of the company for ten years. 
The offer did not even tempt him. Money is not his goal. His am- 
bition is to build up such an organization as he visioned at that dinner 
in 1900, an organization that will contribute to raising the United 
States to first place among the great nations of the earth. 

Like Carnegie, Schwab is a lavish philanthropist. A beautiful 
Catholic Church at Loretto, a convent house at Cresson, a model 
road in place of the dilapidated one where he used to drive his coach, 
a church at Braddock, an industrial school at Homestead, a school 
and an auditorium at Weatherly, all in Pennsylvania, a recreation 
park and school on Staten Island, are among his recorded benefac- 
tions. Not long ago a $2,000,000 endowment for St. Francis College, 
at Loretto, was reported. His unrecorded benefactions probably 
outnumber this list. 

Mrs. Schwab, who before her marriage in 1883 was Miss Emma 
Dinkey (sister of A. C. Dinkey, the steel master), is noted for her 
charities and for her musical and artistic accomplishments. She 
helped Mr. Schwab with the experiments that aided him in acquiring 
the knowledge of steel that was the foundation of his earliest suc- 


WHAT have your policies been?" I asked the head of the 
largest wholesale and retail dry-goods house in the world. 
"We have no policies," he replied; "we have certain 
fixed principles. When your principles are right, you don't have to 
bother about policies — they will take care of themselves." 

Who was the speaker? You probably do not even know his name. 
That is because his modesty is the only quality that exceeds his fore- 

One day a youth, raised on a backwoods farm of New Hampshire, 
walked into the greatest store in Chicago and thus addressed its head : 

"Mr. Field, I would like to get a job here in your store." 

"What can you do?" asked the merchant prince. 

"I can sell any goods of any kind or character your store has for 
sale," was the confident reply. 

"Then I can give you a job. You can start at once at #10 a week." 

Years later Marshall Field, then everywhere recognized as the 
greatest merchant in America, was summoned before a Senatorial 
committee to give evidence on the Dingley Tariff* Bill. There was 
much interest in the appearance of Chicago's great mercantile mag- 
nate. On rising, Mr. Field began: 

"I am holding in my hand a letter from a man I believe to be the 
best merchant in the United States." 

Everybody opened their eyes. Was not the witness himself ad- 
mittedly the best merchant in the land ? Whom else could he mean ? 

There was much mental questioning during the reading of the com- 
munication as to the name that would be signed at the bottom. The 
signature was this: 

For over twenty years the writer of that letter has been the real, 
active head of Marshall Field & Company. And those who know 
best unanimously declare that the growth and scientific development 
of Marshall Field & Company's business has been due chiefly to the 




extraordinary foresight, the exhaustless initiative, the inordinate 
practical ability, and rare imagination of John Graves Shedd. Al- 
though he did not become the titular head of the business until its 
founder died, early in 1906, Mr. Shedd was its actual directing head 
for a dozen years before then. His work was so little trumpeted that 
few people outside the concern were familiar with the facts. 

When the New Hampshire youth first entered the store its sales 
totalled less than #15,000,000 a year. 

To-day, under President Shedd, Marshall Field & Company are 
doing a business of over $100,000,000 a year. They carry over a 
million articles and do 25,000,000 transactions a year. On special 
exposition days more than 300,000 customers have visited the retail 
store between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The store's 
floorspace covers fifty-five acres, calling for over thirty miles of carpet. 
Its electrical power would serve a city of 150,000 inhabitants. The 
store's eighty-two elevators carry, on busy days, more passengers in 
ten hours than are carried in twenty-four hours by both the South 
Side and the Metropolitan West Side Railways of Chicago. To 
deliver goods more than 350 motor trucks and motor wagons daily 
cover 3 50 square miles, and when the holiday business is at its height 
fifty additional motor vehicles are added. The retail store alone 
delivered in one December day, within the territory covered by their 
own equipment, approximately 100,000 packages. 

President Shedd has under him some 20,000 employees, including 
as many as 12,500 in the retail store at holiday times and an average 
of 4,000 in the wholesale store. 

Then the company owns important factories at Spray and Draper, 
North Carolina, for the manufacture of cotton and woollen goods; 
also lace, lace curtain, handkerchief, and bedspread mills at Zion City, 
Illinois, as well as factories in Chicago for the manufacture of mis- 
cellaneous merchandise. 

It was Mr. Shedd's ability to foresee mercantile trends that led 
Marshall Field & Company to take up the production of their own 
merchandise on a large scale, an innovation that enabled them to 
expand steadily and healthily while the majority of other huge dry- 
goods jobbing houses, lacking such foresight, went to the wall. 

"Let us adopt 'From cotton mills to consumer* as one of our 
mottoes," Mr. Shedd propounded years ago when he realized that the 
heyday of the middleman was passed; and it was probably this stroke 
of mercantile genius that saved Marshall Field & Company from the 
common fate. It afforded unlimited scope for creative talent, for 
originating exclusive designs, for upholding and carrying a step for- 
ward the Marshall Field idea of "Better Quality." 

Also, it opened up new channels to Mr. Shedd for the exercise of his 


inventive skill, for to him, a born merchant leader, there was as 
much genuine pleasure and satisfaction in thinking up and evolving 
some new "creation" in merchandise as ever artist experienced in 
painting a masterpiece. I have never seen sculptor or artist handle 
marble or canvas with more touching enthusiasm and affection than 
John Shedd handled such commonplace but useful things as ginghams 
and other cotton fabrics designed and produced under the Marshall 
Field aegis. To most of us a yard of cotton dress goods is a yard of 
cotton goods and nothing more; to him it was the embodiment of 
thought, of art, of creative power — a product of which the workman 
need not feel ashamed. Manifestly the cotton fibres and the delicate 
colourings had been mixed with enthusiasm and with brains. 

Mr. Shedd is little given to talking, but after a while he became 
interested in the object of these sketches explaining the rise of notably 
successful men, and during our conversation he dropped many sage 

"Look at those photographs on that wall" — Mr. Shedd pointed to 
the wall of his private office hung with a dozen pictures of responsible- 
looking men. "There you see every one of Mr. Field's partners and 
not one of them but started with him at the bottom. Two of the 
most successful department managers began, one at $4. and the other 
at #2.50 a week. They were all men of limited education, but they 
were bright, discerning, deserving fellows with initiative, willingness, 
and a desire to do whatever was necessary, not merely for their own 
progress, but for the progress of the business. They placed first the 
welfare of the organization. Their own welfare prospered as a matter 
of course as the business prospered. 

"Too many young men are more concerned about how they start 
than how they are likely to finish. This is especially true of college 
students. Most of them would rather begin at a fairly high salary, 
without considering the goal, than start at a low wage where there is 
more inducement at the top. 

"It is wisely ordained that no one can start at the top but must 
climb to get there; for it is this necessity for starting at the bottom 
that gives the right stamp of young man a chance to rise above the 
common level. 

"Any one pitchforked into a place at the top would be certain to 
fall off and break his neck. 

"It is a remarkable fact that almost all the Marshall Field partners 
have been common or, at the most, high school graduates, not univer- 
sity men. I believe in higher education and would have chosen a 
college course had it been within my reach, even though it probably 
would have detracted from my ability to acquire whatever modest 
business reputation I have attained. The trouble is that your average 


college student comes along wearing his diploma on the lapel of his 
coat and proclaims, 'I am a college fellow.' He wants to keep his 
hands clean. He has no patience to learn the A B C of a business. 
He looks for the highest paid employment he can find at the start in- 
stead of entering the bottom of a business with a future. 

"The huge business organizations of to-day afford more opportu- 
nities for earning large incomes than did the multitude of small stores 
of former days. An income of $10,000 a year on a capital of $100,000 
would be considered a good return, whereas in large establishments ( 
there are now many positions paying from $10,000 to $50,000 a year. 

"The very best thing about a business like ours is that it has been 
in continuous operation for over fifty years, and during that whole 
period not one old employee has been discharged for either lack of 
work or because of depressed general conditions. Steady employ- 
ment at generous wages gives a better opportunity to save money 
than more or less temporary jobs entailing shifting about. 

"There is no lack of opportunity in the world to-day. But there 
is great lack of efficiency, lack of readiness to seize opportunity when 
it comes. The organization that maintains a high state of efficiency 
can usually fill its executive offices from within. 

"It is equally true, however, that no store can be better than its 

"Just as one hot box upsets the proper running of a train, so lack of 
efficiency in any one spot upsets the whole organization. 

"Size alone is of no consequence; the important thing is the standard 
by which a business grows. If a business is run honestly, efficiently, 
and fulfills a useful function in the community, it cannot well be too 

"With us we have had just one central thought, one end toward 
which we have all worked — what we call the Marshall Field idea. 
There it is " 

Mr. Shedd pointed to this framed statement hanging on the wall: 

The Marshall Field & Company Idea 

To do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way; 
to do some things better than they were ever done before; 
to eliminate errors; to know both sides of the question; to 
be courageous; to be an example; to work for love of the 
work; to anticipate requirements; to develop resources; to 
recognize no impediments; to master circumstances; to act 
from reason rather than rule; to be satisfied with nothing 
short of perfection. 

"We try to inculcate that idea upon all employees, and any who 
cannot absorb it and be guided by it must go elsewhere. The daily 


application and operation of that idea is as good for each individual 
as it is for the house. Our whole aim, you thus see, is service. 

"Every large employer worthy of the name is constantly looking 
for men of the highest efficiency to fill important places. That is his 
most important duty, the selecting and placing of the right men in the 
right positions. The employer who can rear and train employees to 
take the principal positions can thus pave the way for promotion all 
along the line. This makes every worker feel that he is going to reach 
the highest point his merits warrant. 

"Sometimes it is necessary to reason with a man that his present 
job is better for him than one higher up would be, since he would 
probably fail to fill it satisfactorily and thus become a misfit." 

The career of John Graves Shedd contains nothing hit-or-miss, 
nothing haphazard, nothing hinged on chance. From the very outset 
he formulated plans and principles and moved forward unswervingly 
toward their consummation. He selected a harbour toward which 
to sail even before he had put out to sea. Then he steered a straight 

He was born on July 20, 1850, on a farm at Alstead, New Hamp- 
shire, and very early had to perform a man's work in the field and in 
the barn. This life, with its lack of opportunity for advancement, its 
isolation from social and intellectual activities, its narrow vision and 
its semi-poverty, had little fascination for him. There were no 
automobiles on farms in those days, not even facilities for installing 
bath tubs and the other modern domestic conveniences which have 
gone far to revolutionize rural life during more recent years. The 
country lad did much serious thinking as to what avenue of life he 
should follow, and finally resolved to become a merchant, as good 
and as great a merchant as industry and honesty could make him. 
Before he was seventeen he left his father's farm and entered a grocery 
store at Bellows Falls, Vermont, at #1.50 a week and his board. 
From the start he felt at home selling things. 

"I saved most of the #75 I received for my first year's work and 
felt quite a capitalist," Mr. Shedd told me. Then he found work in 
a general store in his native town at $125 a year, but of this he had to 
pay $2 a week for board to a New England housewife who looked 
after him well for this modest sum. A fire in the store, which forced 
him to find another job, proved a disguised blessing, as he received 
#175 a year in a rival store. 

"I now felt on the highway to prosperity," commented Mr. Shedd. 
By the time he was twenty his ability had become marked and he 
accepted what was regarded as a most tempting offer to enter a dry- 
goods store at Rutland, Vermont. The salary was #300 a year with 


The best dry-goods store in Rutland, however, was owned by Ben- 
jamin H. Burt, a merchant of more than local fame, whose principles 
and practices were far ahead of those then generally current. His keen 
eye did not overlook the ability of the newcomer from the Granite 
State, and to secure his services Mr. Burt offered to double his 
salary and allow him a commission on sales. The environment here 
proved most congenial and Shedd found himself developing both 
mentally and commercially. 

His goal, however, was higher than anything Rutland could offer. 
His aim was not to become a large toad in a small puddle, but to 
test his mettle in a large centre where he would have to match his 
wits against the keenest of mercantile intellects. He had diligently 
studied dry goods; he took such a delight in satisfying customers that 
he was sure nature had intended him for a salesman; he possessed an 
adequate measure of self-confidence — and he had saved money. 

With great regret he said good-bye to his tutor and benefactor, Mr. 
Burt — whose picture to this day Mr. Shedd keeps close at his hand 
in his office. Chicago was his destination. 

"I was determined/' said Mr. Shedd in recounting this epochal 
step in his career, "to get a position in the best store in the city. I 
had heard of Field, Leiter & Company and found that it was both the 
best and the biggest house in Chicago. Well, I got a job in it as 
stockkeeper and salesman — and I am still here." 

Of his climb from the bottom to the top of the world's greatest 
dry-goods enterprise, Mr. Shedd could not be induced to talk further 
than to say that five months after he began, on August 7, 1872, his 
pay was raised, not to #12 which had been stipulated, but to $14, 
Mr. Field explaining that this was in consideration of his notably 
good work — "A tribute which pleased me more than any other sub- 
sequent advancement in the whole course of my career," added Mr. 

"It was an inspiration to serve a man like Mr. Field," declared 
Mr. Shedd, as willing to talk about Mr. Field as he was unwilling to 
talk about himself. 

It was Mr. Shedd's good fortune to be placed directly under Henry 
J. Willing, one of the ablest partners ever connected with Marshall 
Field. He was an inspiration for those associated with him; from 
him they learned the value of high character, ceaseless energy, and 
progressive methods. Within four years Mr. Shedd became head of 
the lace and embroidery department — this when only twenty-six 
years of age. The talent he displayed for analyzing conditions, for 
reading trends, and for skilful merchandising induced Mr. Field to 
entrust, not one, but half-a-dozen departments to his care. Before 
long he was appointed general merchandise manager of the whole 


business, a position carrying tremendous responsibilities since it en- 
tailed oversight of the buying as well as the selling of millions of dol- 
lars' worth of goods a year. It took him just twenty-one years to 
rise from $10 a week to a partnership with the income of a prince. 

When the firm was incorporated in 1901, Mr. Shedd was given rank 
second only to Marshall Field himself, the latter being president and 
the former vice-president. The bulk of the active work fell upon the 
vice-president, as Mr. Field by then felt entitled to relax and to in- 
dulge his fondness for travel. For years before Mr. Field's death, 
in 1906, Mr. Shedd had been the real head of the firm, and his elec- 
tion to the presidency followed as a matter of course. Mr. Field's 
career had been along almost exactly the same lines as his successor's. 
Both had been farm boys, both had started in country stores in New 
England, both migrated to Chicago as dry-goods salesmen, and both 
believed in and followed the same principles. Field used to say that 
he wanted brains, not money — and as a matter of fact, not one of his 
partners brought a dollar's worth of outside capital into the business. 

"What were and are some of your cardinal principles?" I asked 
Mr. Shedd. He replied: 

"Supply nothing but serviceable merchandise, and when possible, 
of better quality than furnished elsewhere; always satisfy your cus- 
tomer, no matter at what cost or inconvenience, so that he or she will 
become one of your best advertisements; conduct business on as near a 
strictly cash basis as practicable and thus avoid bad debts; try always 
to read coming developments and adjust your activities accordingly; 
and, not least important, treat employees with the greatest considera- 
tion and thus evoke their loyalty." 

Mr. Shedd was the first merchant in Chicago to introduce the 
Saturday half-holiday. He is an advocate of healthful recreation for 
both employers and employees. "I regard golf as one of the greatest 
blessings of modern times," Mr. Shedd remarked to me, "for it has 
drawn men of responsible affairs away from their tasks into the open 
air, where they not only reinvigorate their health but form new 
friendships and cultivate social intercourse. This has tended not 
only to clear their brains but to develop their humanity." 

How well the Marshall Field employees have been provided for 
may be gathered from these facts: A large portion of one floor is 
devoted to their exclusive use. Reading rooms are provided for men 
and for women and a branch of the Chicago Public Library is main- 
tained in the building. There are medical rooms, with nurses, etc.; 
music and rest rooms, educational motion pictures to show the process 
of manufacturing textiles, etc.; lunch rooms and cafeterias which serve 
an average of 3,000 employees daily; a choral society of 150 members; 
a baseball league, and a gymnasium. Then an academy is provided 


for boys and girls serving in the store, and its diploma is equivalent to 
that awarded high school graduates. Every employee receives two 
weeks' vacation with full pay each summer. The management en- 
courages young men to enter the militia. In short, conditions are 
such that a position with Marshall Field & Company is a coveted one. 

Mr. Shedd is a director of several railroads and financial institutions. 
Nor has he shirked his civic responsibilities, although on this score he 
remarked : " It is unfortunate that under modern complex conditions 
it is so difficult for busy business men to take an adequate part in 
public and civic affairs. Any business that is left to run itself wiri 
run downhill. However, we have tried so to organize things that 
we have young men capable of relieving the older heads from the 
necessity of overworking. Whereas twenty years ago it would have 
been thought almost a crime to take an afternoon off, it is now feasible 
and not accounted foolish to ride into the country for an occasional 
game of golf." Incidentally, Mr. Shedd not only plays a good game 
of golf, but is an expert horseback rider and used to be an ardent 
cyclist before he took to automobiling. 

Mr. Shedd's benefactions to the Chicago Y. M. C. A., to hospitals, 
and to other worthy causes have been substantial, but conducted so 
quietly that the general public usually have learned little about them 
— Mr. Shedd is extraordinarily quiet and unassuming. To his native 
town, Alstead, he has donated and endowed a library built of New 
Hampshire granite, a gift partly inspired by the recollection of the 
difficulty he experienced when a boy in securing good books, of 
which he was then and is still fond. 

Mr. Shedd did not get married until he had made his way in the 
world and until he had wisdom enough to select a suitable life-partner. 
He married Miss Mary R. Porter of his home town of Alstead, in 
1878, and although they have no sons, they have what they call "the 
next best thing," two sons-in-law, their two daughters being now Mrs. 
Laura Shedd Schweppe of Chicago and Lake Forest, Illinois, and Mrs. 
Helen Shedd Reed of Chicago. The Shedd home in Chicago is 
greatly admired by students of architecture. 

"I have often wondered why you have never sought to connect 
your name with the title of the firm," I told Mr. Shedd. 

He replied: "I have always considered that any long-established 
institution such as our own, with a strong asset of good will, if con- 
tinuously well managed, adds strength to its business each year by 
the continuity of style of its firm name, though the personnel of its 
ownership may have changed completely." 

Have you not noticed that the men who have done most are often 
the least vain-glorious? 


DON'T you want a boy?" 
"What can you do, my lad?" 
"I can do as much as any other boy of my age — where 
shall I hang my hat?" 

"Well, my boy, if you work as quickly as you talk, we can use you." 

The boy was Edward C. Simmons; the place, a hardware store in 
St. Louis; the time, the last day of 1855. 

The boy did work — worked so effectively that he made St. Louis 
the greatest hardware centre on earth, doing more business than 
New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston combined; worked so 
successfully that his house now sells three axes, two pocket knives, and 
several saws every minute of the year, supplying not only the United 
States with hardware and cutlery formerly almost wholly imported 
from Europe, but in peace times disposing annually of thousands of 
dollars' worth in cutlery-manufacturing Britain, as well as in France, 
Germany, Russia, the Orient, Australia, South Africa, South America, 
and other civilized and semi-civilized parts of the globe; worked so 
intelligently that before many years passed he was employing more 
travelling salesmen than any other man in America; worked so effi- 
ciently that, to handle his output, there was erected, at his chief 
establishment, the greatest railroad traffic station of the kind ever 
conceived, capable of loading sixty cars at once. 

The Bethlehem Steel Company is not more exclusively the product 
of Charles M. Schwab's energy and genius, and the Standard Oil 
Company is much less the fruit of John D. Rockefeller's individual 
efforts than the Simmons Hardware Company is the creation of one 
man, E. C. Simmons. 

How did he do it? 

He put himself — his personality — into the nursing and developing 
of the business. He infused humanness into all his activities and into 
all his salesmen. Among his co-workers he inspired love; among his 
customers, something beyond respect — affection, even. 

Then, too, he had vision half a century ago, when vision was rare 
among American business men. He was clear-eyed enough to see 
the buyer's side of a transaction as well as the seller's, and to grasp 
the now-commonplace idea that a satisfied customer is the best asset. 
He was the first to teach the salesman not to let his interest in a cus- 




tomer stop with the question, "How many goods can I sell him?" 
but to do everything possible to contribute to that merchant's success 
and prosperity. Often Simmons men render invaluable services to 
retailers, especially those just starting in business. He originated 
the epigram: "A jobber's first duty is to help his customers to pros- 
per," which has become a recognized principle of trade. He could 
foresee trends and tendencies of the future, and he was optimistic 
enough, alert enough, progressive enough to become a pioneer in 
blazing the new trails called for by the never-ceasing evolution of 
mankind and of business. 

When I asked Mr. Simmons who could give me an insight into his 
early business methods — the laying of the foundation is always the 
part that most interests me, since it is usually the most illuminating — 
he referred me to, whom do you think ? 

A man who served in his employ for many years, and then became 
one of his most aggressive and successful competitors ! 

Any man who, near the close of life's day, can intrust the describing 
of his character, his methods, and his reputation to an old competitor, 
must surely have a clear conscience and a clean record. 

Mr. Simmons has. 

But don't jump at the idea that in the early days business morals 
and business practices were on as high a plane as they are to-day, or 
that Mr. Simmons was too sanctimonious, too punctilious, too high- 
minded to enter the rough-and-tumble of the business fray, and play 
the game according to the rules then in force. 

He was no mollycoddle. "Catch-as-catch-can" was the only motto 
or mode business then knew. Truthfulness, money-back-if-you're- 
not-satisfied, fair prices — such refinements of trade are modern. Mr. 
Simmons did his share in ushering them in a generation ago. His 
career covers both the old and the new era. 

He was born in Frederick, Maryland, on September 21, 1839, of 
Philadelphia ancestors, and trekked to St. Louis when a young lad. 
He had a mania for pocket knives, and no friend or acquaintance had 
one that he had not examined minutely. So, when he was turned 
into the world, at sixteen, to look for a job, it was natural that he 
should apply at a store where they sold knives — that of Child, Pratt & 
Co. — where the colloquy which opens this article occurred. It was 
the largest wholesale hardware store in St. Louis, and his first weeks 
were devoted to taking all the goods from the shelves, dusting them, 
and putting them back again. His pay was $3 a week, or, to be exact, 
he served under a three-year agreement, calling for a salary of $150 
the first year, #200 the second, and $300 the third. He did the dusting 
so thoroughly that the boss complimented him, and promoted him 
to be an errand boy. Every opportunity found him familiarizing 


himself with the stock. His love for pocket knives in particular, and 
cutlery in general, had thus early begun to pave the way for the Sim- 
mons Hardware Company, owners and operators of the largest pocket 
knife factory in the world. 

By the time his apprenticeship ended he was able to command a 
better position with another firm, Wilson, Levering & Waters, his 
theory being that with this smaller house he could make his work 
and personality tell sooner and more effectively. He had not been 
there many weeks when this conservation occurred: 

"Mr. Levering, will you please let me carry the store key?" This 
key, by the way, was one of the old-fashioned sort, nearly a foot long. 

"What do you want to carry the key for?" demanded the boss 

"Because the porter doesn't come down early enough. I want to 
do more work." 

"What time does the porter get down?" 

"Half-past seven." 

"What time do you want to get down?" 

"Half-past six." 

"Well, if you feel that way about it, you may carry the key — but 
you will soon get tired of it." 

He didn't. Young Simmons had already sensed Opportunity. 
There were no salesmen in those days to go to buyers; buyers had to 
go to the sellers. Nor were there railroads. The boats on which 
merchants came to town landed at night, and the four principal 
hotels in St. Louis were all within three blocks of the store. The wide- 
awake young clerk, a very early riser himself, had noticed that country 
merchants, unable to sleep because of the city noises, often got up 
between five and six o'clock and walked around sight-seeing. Sim- 
mons figured that if he had the store open, some of them might drop 
in — and the early bird would catch the worm. 

The very first morning a Missourian stopped to look at a pile of 
grindstones at the front door. Simmons went out and greeted him 
with an affable "Good-morning!" The Missourian was not averse to 
talking, and the enterprising young clerk diplomatically told him how 
this was the first morning of an experiment he had conceived and how 
anxious he was to make it a success. 

Before the porter or any one else came to start work, Wilson, 
Levering & Waters had sold a sizable bill of goods to the Missourian — 
and they continued to sell him regularly for many years. 

The sign over the door soon was changed to read: "Waters, 
Simmons & Company." From this grew the Simmons Hardware 

How the Simmons hardware business, starting humbly, has been 


built up to its present proportions, with buildings totalling enough to 
swallow up the great Singer Building of New York, is the main theme 
of this story. 

Mr. Simmons early learned to handle both hardware and human 
hearts. He knew how to grapple both co-workers and customers to 
his heart "with hooks of steel. " It was he who first introduced 
travelling salesmen in the business and for years he employed more 
than any other enterprise in the country — he now has over 500. 
How he has taught those salesmen; how he has fathered them, en- 
thused them, developed them, and rewarded them, reflects his character 
and his genius. 

He was and is an Optimist — with a capital O. He continually 
writes and sends out letters of encouragement and every week sends 
out a long personal chat to the whole force — the Simmons weekly 
letter was in reality the first "house magazine" in our annals. It 
breathes optimism; it sparkles with wit and wisdom; it provides 
"small talk" for salesmen to use when meeting buyers; it supplies 
selling arguments; it gives the men helpful advice on life and morals 
without ever savouring of goody-goodyism; it is never a cold business 
document, but a delightful letter from home, a welcome, cheering 
message from a large-hearted father who is seeking to aid his sons in 
making their way in the world. 

"How we used to look forward to that weekly letter," one of the 
veteran ex-salesmen told me. "It did more than Mr. Simmons can 
ever know to keep some of us straight when we were away from home 
for six months or even a year at a stretch. A lot of us stopped drink- 
ing because of his advice to us. He also taught us that trickiness 
wouldn't last, and that honesty would win out every time. 

"He stimulated us wonderfully. After the 1873 panic, trade went 
to pieces. We salesmen were disheartened; we felt like giving up 
trying to do business. I well remember how Mr. Simmons, in his 
letters, related to us the old story of the two frogs that fell into a basin 
of milk and couldn't climb out, and how one gave up trying and was 
drowned, but the other kept on kicking and trying until its efforts 
churned the milk into butter and enabled it to jump up without any 
more difficulty ! That put heart into every one of us. 

"Every Christmas he had us all at dinner at his home — there were 
nearer fifty than 500 of us then — and this also helped to bind us 
close to him. He never did the 'boss' act; he was just one of us, our 
elder brother, anxious to help us to get on." 

His salesmen keep Mr. Simmons informed of what is going on among 
customers. A death has always brought from him a letter that was 
not a formality, but a genuine message straight from the heart, Mr. 
Simmons being one of the best of letter-writers. He has always found 


time for acts of thoughtfulness, largely because he has been, as he 
says, "an early riser," a pointer that he would pass on with cordial 
endorsement to all who aspire to success in any field. 

In former times, when it was the custom of merchants to go to 
St. Louis regularly to buy their season's supplies, Mr. Simmons per- 
sonally welcomed them to the Simmons Hardware Company, and 
always showed them appropriate kindnesses. His desk was kept 
full of acceptable little gifts, often novelties brought from Paris and 
other European cities. On rising to go, a visitor was often handed a 
souvenir — and on opening it when he got home would be astounded 
to find his name engraved on it. Mr. Simmons had quietly written 
the visitor's name on a slip of paper, with other necessary instructions, 
and the work was done while the conversation was going on. That 
never failed to make a hit. To this day he spends much thought on 
the art of how best to entertain visiting merchants; he knows the likes, 
the tastes, and the interests of most of them, and he sees to itthattheir 
stay is made congenial, helpful, and in a sense, educative. They en- 
joy "a feast of reason and a flow of soul" rather than the kind of 
feasts and flows buyers are too often treated to. He is, incidentally, a 
good listener. 

Profit sharing was introduced, too, by Mr. Simmons long before it 
was thought of by others. Every salesman brought his record to 
him at the end of each year, and a generous percentage of the total 
sales was awarded him. Every salesman's record is carefully gone 
over at the end of the year with a view to finding in his results some- 
thing to warrant extra compensation, "Velvet," as the salesmen call 
it. "My Velvet was nearly as much as my salary for the first year 
on the road," one old employee confided to me. "I was flabbergasted 
— but more than ever determined to deserve the Chief's generosity." 

To facilitate his profit-sharing system, Mr. Simmons incorporated 
his business in 1874. It was the first mercantile firm in the United 
States to incorporate. Employees were given opportunity to acquire 
stock and this proved extraordinarily profitable. The original capital 
of #200,000 was increased to #4,500,000, and later to #6,000,000, 
wholly from earnings — a record which even the strongest bank in 
the country might envy. 

Mr. Simmons's solicitude for the welfare of his men and his cus- 
tomers also led him to become a pioneer in another direction. He was 
the first to develop the system of having travelling salesmen live in 
their territory, settle there, and become a part of the community, in- 
stead of spending year after year as nomads. Merchants had more 
confidence in dealing with a fellow-citizen than with a salesman whom 
they could not know well and who was there to-day and gone to- 


From this evolved the Simmons system of to-day, the most elabo- 
rate and efficient ever devised, of dividing the whole country into dis- 
tricts, and having in each of them resident salesmen acquainted 
intimately with conditions. At headquarters is a sales manager for 
each district, a man who knows the needs of the merchants in his 
section and who speaks their language. He is there ready to extend 
them a personal welcome when they come to market and to take care 
of their orders which come in by mail. 

So familiar are the Simmons salesmen with agricultural, industrial, 
and social conditions in their territory that their periodic reports on 
crops, trade, political trends, etc., when summarized, give the very 
best cue obtainable anywhere of just what is what throughout the 

In the office of the president in St. Louis hangs a huge map of the 
United States, dotted with coloured disks; in the centre of each 
is the photograph of the salesman, the position of the disk indicating 
where the salesman is travelling, the colour of the disk indicating which 
one of the Simmons houses he travels from, and an arrow back of the 
disk indicates by its colour and direction what that salesman is 
accomplishing by comparison with his previous record. This map 
thus tells the whole story at a glance. System has been developed 
by this organization to the nth power. 

Initiative is persistently encouraged. The founder often allowed 
men to try out ideas which he himself didn't think would w^ork. "I 
don't quite agree with you, but go ahead; you may be right and I 
wrong," he would tell them and would then loyally cooperate to 
make the innovation a success. And he never failed to pay well for 

Thirty-seven years ago Mr. Simmons had the courage to spend 
$30,000 in bringing out the first complete hardware catalogue ever 
compiled, and as a result added $1,000,000 to his sales forthwith. 
Now the house issues annually a catalogue of 2,500 pages, 22,000 
illustrations, and 70,000 items, with minute specifications, descrip- 
tions, and prices, so that every retailer in the land can provide his 
patrons with any article from the whole line on short notice. 

Promptness is such a fetich with Mr. Simmons that he wants all 
orders billed and shipped the day they are received, and to that end 
every available modern contrivance and device is utilized, from ma- 
chines for opening and sealing envelopes down to mechanical convey- 
ers for transferring the cases of merchandise from the packing room 
to the railroad freight station within the building. Indeed, it was 
primarily to insure expeditious deliveries, and thus enable their 
customers to compete successfully with the mail order houses, that 
the Simmons Hardware Company established complete wholesale 


houses, similar to that in St. Louis, in such distributing centres as 
Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Sioux City, Toledo, and Wichita. 

Finding that he could not buy certain goods of the high quality he 
desired, Mr. Simmons, in 1870, inaugurated the idea of manufacturing 
a complete line of tools of the highest quality, all under one brand, 
adopting as his trade-mark, "Keen Kutter" now known over the 
whole earth. 

Before then there was much flim-flamming in the hardware business, 
articles of inferior quality being more common than those of merit. 
The step Mr. Simmons then took was epochal; it led to the revolution- 
izing of the whole trade and instilled confidence in honest merchan- 

A manufacturer offered Mr. Simmons axes which were not of top- 
notch quality, but objections were met with the curt reply: "You'll 
have to buy them; you can't get anything else." Mr. Simmons didn't 
relish being cornered. He had, and has, a habit of doing much of his 
thinking in bed. 

"That night," he relates, "I got out of bed, whittled a nice model 
axe-head out of wood, and wrote on it in pencil: *E. C. Simmons 
Keen Kutter.' That was the origin of our trade-mark and our quality 
policy — the ideas on which our house has been built." 

The registered motto, as most of us now know, is: "The Recollec- 
tion of Quality Remains Long After the Price Is Forgotten." It 
took courage and unflagging determination to introduce such a high- 
grade and necessarily higher-priced line of goods, but Mr. Simmons 
won out. "Wisdom is justified of her children," as he sometimes 
remarks. He decided to build on a rock, not on sand. 

I had hoped to give many of Mr. Simmons's business epigrams and 
mottoes, since they throw light on his successful methods. There is 
space for only a few: 

"Business is the execution of ideas." 

" Promptness is the essence of all good business." 

"The difference between failure and success is doing a thing nearly 
right and doing it exactly right." 

"Concentration means strength. Scatteration means weakness. 
Having chosen one line of work or business, stick to it." 

"Spend fifteen minutes every night recounting your day's doings 
and planning to do better next morning." 

"Always put yourself in your customer's place." 

"An ounce of industry is worth a pound of brains." 

"Character is the decisive force in business." 

"My favourite pleasure has been to take hold of a poor salesman 
and make him a 'Cracker-Jack,' a 'Star.'" 

"I am a great believer in the business philosophy of encouragement." 


"Settle claims promptly. The merchant who does not permit 
himself to be imposed upon occasionally will never get far." 

"If any of your men, or any customer, gets into a hole, always leave 
him a loophole to get out easily. ,, 

"Quality of goods, confidence in your business and in yourself, 
ability and readiness to anticipate conditions and to adapt yourself 
to them — these are some of the essentials of business success." 

Most of our self-made men who have sons following them in the 
business remain as head of their business as long as they are physi- 
cally and mentally able to do it. Not so with E. C. Simmons, who 
retired from the active management of his great organization in 1897, 
handing it over to his three capable sons — Wallace D. Simmons, 
who succeeded him as president, Edward H. Simmons and George 
W. Simmons, vice-presidents — while he was yet in his prime and able 
to give them his advice and cooperation. However, he is still very 
much "on the job," in an advisory capacity, for, as he recently re- 

"I love to work and I work because I love it, and because it gives 
me an opportunity to teach others to learn quickly what it has taken 
me sixty years to learn." 

Edward C. Simmons started, and his sons are still building, a monu- 
ment to him which has done and is doing much for the country and 
its development. While the cost of living has soared, the cost of 
hardware within his time has been greatly reduced. He has done 
more than any other living man to bring this about, thus benefiting 
all the people and particularly thousands of his friends among the 
retail hardware merchants who look upon his counsel and advice as 
upon a guiding star. 

They are using daily in the conduct of their business the principles 
which he has taught them as well as the facilities which he has created 
for the better and more economical handling of a complicated line 
of goods, the benefit of it all inuring, of course, to the ultimate users 
of them, including the ordinary householder. 

His love of humanity and desire to help others he has put into prac- 
tical form and we are all benefiting by it in our daily life. 


THE toastm aster was presenting James Speyer, the international 
banker and public-spirited citizen of New York. He dwelt 
upon the courageous part played by the firm of Speyer & 
Company, their European houses, and the young financier in supply- 
ing Collis P. Huntington with many millions of dollars to fructify 
our Western Empire by traversing it with the daring Central Pacific 
and Southern Pacific railroads. He recalled how Speyer and his 
associates had loosened European purse-strings and poured capital 
into the development of this youthful country. He commented upon 
the Speyers' century-old reputation for protecting clients. He eulo- 
gized Mr. Speyer's civic and public welfare activities, and finished 
with an eloquent peroration on Mr. Speyer's innate democracy and 
human sympathy. 

"Your toastmaster, though he gave me far more credit than I 
deserve, forgot to mention the wisest thing I ever did," Mr. Speyer, 
on rising, protested. 

Everybody stared. Most of them thought the introduction had 
covered the ground fairly well. 

"The wisest thing I ever did," Mr. Speyer resumed with a twinkle, 
"was to choose New York for my birthplace." 

Then Mr. Speyer went on to tell the story of an American from the 
West travelling for the first time in Europe, who was riding on a 
coach to Versailles with a number of Englishmen and who was so 
anxious to let everybody know he was an American that he pulled an 
American flag from his pocket and spread it over his knees. A 
peppery Englishman sitting opposite became so annoyed that he 
caustically remarked, loud enough for every one to hear: "Some 
people seem to be awfully proud because they happen to have been 
born in a particular country." Quick as a flash the American an- 
swered: "I am not particularly proud because I was born in the 
United States, but I am mighty sorry for anybody that ain't." 

Concerns in this country begin to boast of their venerable age when 
they reach the quarter-century mark. The Speyers began to make 
a reputation in Frankfort-on-Main generations ago. By the seven- 
teenth century one of James Speyer's great-grandfathers was quite 
a figure, while in the following century history records that the Im- 
perial Court Banker Isaac Michael Speyer was seized by the French 




as a hostage to guarantee the payment of a war tax levied on the 
people of the free city of Frankfort-on-Main. 

The Speyers caught the philanthropic spirit before the founding of 
the.American Republic. Frankfort still has charitable establishments 
which were named after Speyers of the eighteenth century. This 
long record has not been broken; recently members of the Speyer 
family left several million dollars for educational and scientific pur- 
poses. Finance and philanthropy were thus bred in James Speyer's 
bones and blood. 

"Does money insure happiness? Is the life of a philanthropist a 
happy one?" I asked Mr. Speyer. 

"Whatever you do, don't call me a 'philanthropist' or any such 
name," Mr. Speyer replied vigorously. "There are millions of men 
and women in this country who are doing just as much, indeed a 
great deal more, proportionately, than we are, and I am sure they get 
as much happiness and satisfaction out of it. One great — perhaps the 
greatest — advantage possessed by people who have a competence 
and who have more money than they care to spend on themselves, is 
that they have the spare time and money to devote to other purposes. 
Whatever I may have done in this respect is largely due to the in- 
spiration and example of my wife." 

Mrs. Speyer, as all the world knows, gives not only money, but her- 
self freely to worthy causes. Her sympathies and activities go out, 
not only to children, to the poor, to the unemployed, and other un- 
fortunate human beings, but extend to dumb animals, for which, as 
President of the New York Women's League for Animals, she was 
instrumental in founding an Animal Hospital, where many a poor 
man has had doctored the horse that meant the main source of his 
family's bread and butter. 

James Speyer has the most democratic ideals of any man of heredi- 
tary wealth I have ever known. He abhors everything savouring 
of pretense and cant and hypocrisy. His championship of labour at 
times has shocked some Wall Street magnates. His outspoken atti- 
tude toward autocratically inclined, narrow-minded leaders has often 
elicited frowns. 

But events have abundantly justified the wisdom of his stand. 
His convictions were born, not of any cheap desire to pose as a friend 
of labour, but of deep insight and unusual foresight; he can understand 
and gauge human nature better than some of his fellows; his vision is 
broad enough to see both sides of a question, and his inborn sense of 
justice has impelled him to come out boldly for what he has seen to 
be right and fair. For example, he urged the railroads not to fight 
Federal supervision when the Interstate Commerce Commission was 
being formed. He favoured postal savings banks and also the parcel 


post, as he believed both would benefit the whole country and every 
one in it. 

In 191 5 he gave a practical demonstration of his democracy, of his 
readiness to rub shoulders with all classes of his fellow-citizens, by 
doing military duty at Plattsburg as a plain trooper — at the cost of 
not a little sweat, as the newspaper correspondents were fond of 
recording after Speyer returned at nightfall from some particularly 
arduous day's work. He believes in universal military service as a 
great unifying force for our citizenship and endorses General Wood's 
statement that "equality of opportunity means equality of obliga- 

Mr. Speyer does not believe in American High Finance holding 
itself in icy isolation, for in his conception the banker is a semi-public 
servant. Nor does he believe that publicity, of which he was an early 
and ardent advocate, is enough. He believes, above everything else, 
in drawing the so-called masses and the so-called classes together, 
in promoting mutual understanding by mingling with one another, 
getting to know one another and learning one another's point of view. 
Almost every one of his endeavours has been inspired by this central, 
dominating idea of drawing together the rich and the poor, the edu- 
cated and the uneducated, foreigners and Americans. 

"People need to know and understand one another to be able to 
see correctly and sympathize with one another's conditions and aims," 
said Mr. Speyer in an address at the University Settlement. "A 
famous Frenchman has said "Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner" 
meaning that to understand everything is to forgive everything. 
When you fully understand another person's mind, and the circum- 
stances and conditions that led to the moulding of his opinions, you 
are less likely to condemn him than you are to sympathize with his 
feelings, even though you may have to differ from some of his conclu- 
sions. Strife is usually based on misunderstanding." 

New Yorkers, especially New York financiers, have kept themselves 
aloof from the people too much, Mr. Speyer feels. He thinks that 
railroad directors, for example, should make a point of visiting the 
territories covered by the roads. When the Baltimore & Ohio direc- 
tors met in Baltimore not so long ago they were entertained by promi- 
nent citizens at dinner and, when called upon to speak, Mr. Speyer 
said, among other things: 

"We realize that we who live in New York are in a sense provincial 
because we do not travel enough and do not see enough for ourselves 
of our country and of the men and women who live in it. Unhappily 
there exists an erroneous impression about New York and there is 
ignorance among New Yorkers about other parts of the country. 
This can best be dispelled by visits such as we are paying you. With 


all due modesty I feel that when Americans outside of New York 
know us better by personal acquaintance, they will find we have no 
horns or hoofs and that even that much-maligned animal, the New 
York banker, has very much the same aspirations, the same heart and 
feeling as every other American has." 

The Speyer School, presented to Teachers' College in 1902, was the 
first practical plan in this country to link up settlement work with 
teaching and make the schoolhouse the social centre of its neighbour- 
hood. The University Settlement Society, which Mr. Speyer helped * 
to organize in 1891, was the very first settlement established here — 
its aim, of course, was to draw together different classes so as to help 
all. The same idea underlay the organization of the Provident Loan 
Society in 1894. Mr. Speyer helped to raise the first $100,000 for it 
and is now its president. This society has a working capital of over 
$1 1,000,000 and has made loans, averaging $33, to more than 5,500,000 
people, the total amount loaned reaching $185,000,000 since its 

It was Mr. Speyer who founded the Roosevelt exchange professor- 
ship with Germany twelve years ago, also with a view to furthering 
international amity and comprehension. Later he provided funds to 
maintain the American Institute in Berlin to act as guide, philosopher, 
and friend to American students in Germany and German students 
in the United States. 

Mr. Speyer' s active interest in such organizations as the American 
Museum of Safety, the National Civic Federation and the Economic 
Club (of which he was president) is prompted by the usefulness of 
such bodies in drawing labour and capital closer, thus enabling each 
to get a more adequate conception of the other. 

James Speyer did not find his wife in the gilded halls of plutocratic 
aristocracy; he married Ellin L. Lowery, nee Prince, of old American 
stock, who at that time was conducting a tea room in New York. 
A niece of William R. Travis, the celebrated wit, her brilliancy, her 
ready humour, and her kind heart for all, won Mr. Speyer. Before 
then she had, among other social services, taken a foremost part in 
organizing and helping working girls' clubs. For years Mrs. Speyer 
has been one of the most popular women in New York. 

It was the larger measure of freedom, the freer play of democracy, 
and the greater degree of opportunity and equality to be found in 
the United States than in Germany which determined Mr. Speyer to 
return to this republic and spend his life here after having been 
brought up in Germany from his third to his twenty-fourth year. 
The founder of the Speyer banking house in the United States was 
Phillip Speyer, who came to New York in 1837 and was later joined 
by his brother Gustavus Speyer, father of James Speyer. When the 


war between the States broke out and dire need arose for raising war 
funds, Phillip Speyer & Company, unlike the Rothschilds, enthusias- 
tically threw in their lot with the North and rendered invaluable ser- 
vice in opening up a market in Europe for United States Government 
bonds, a stroke which combined patriotism with great profit to the 
firm and to its large following of clients abroad — the firm purchased 
bonds at as low as thirty-six cents on the dollar (allowing for the 
depreciated currency) which were later redeemed at par. It was at 
this time, 1861, that James Speyer was born, in New York City. He 
was educated in Frankfort and thereafter received a thorough training 
in international banking in both London and Paris as well as in the 
historic banking house of the Speyer family in his ancestral town. 

Although his parents had returned to Germany and it was taken for 
granted that James would remain at home, he made up his mind that 
he would rather live under the Stars and Stripes, as his father had 
been a staunch American till his end. When twenty-three he set sail 
for America, joined Speyer & Company in New York and, soon became 
its head. 

He brought his nerve with him. At first New York's heavyweight- 
financiers took little or no note of the beardless youth. They regarded 
him merely as a rich man's son, under no necessity to work to add to 
his fortune, and unacquainted with the intricacies of American fi- 
nances. The principal figures then in the financial limelight were 
J. P. Morgan and Jay Gould, with James J. Hill and Collis P. Hunting- 
ton, the great railroad builders, forging toward the front, although 
the latter had no general financial backing. 

Jay Gould was astonished one morning by a visit from one who 
looked a mere boy. The visitor, however, had painstakingly drawn 
up a plan for the reorganization of the St. Louis & Southwestern, 
then in trouble. Jay Gould controlled the junior securities, but 
Speyer & Company had been selected as members of a committee to 
protect the first mortgage bonds held in Germany. The doughty 
veteran had more respect for his youthful visitor before the interview 
was over. To make a long story short, Speyer' s plan was taken up 
and finally adopted, the terms, incidentally, being entirely satisfactory 
to the young banker's clients. 

Huntington quickly recognized the young man's ability and in- 
dustry. The newcomer meanwhile had concluded that Huntington 
personally and his Southern Pacific and Central Pacific railroads 
were well worthy of continued financial and moral support. The 
two men became close friends and co-workers. Millions of dollars 
were brought by the Speyers not only from Germany, but from their 
Amsterdam and London affiliations, to be poured into the Huntington 
properties to put them on a solid financial footing and to meet their 


indebtedness to the Government in full, a piece of financing that was 
regarded as remarkable at that time. Union Pacific was then ap- 
parently trying to compromise its debt to the U. S. Government, 
but the Speyers and C. P. Huntington were determined that Cen- 
tral Pacific should pay in full. 

President McKinley had been placed by Congress at the head of a 
commission to settle these railroad debts, and Speyer assured him 
that the Central Pacific would arrange a full settlement. So many 
threads had to be taken up in America and Europe that the agree- 
ment, which had to get the formal signature of the President by a 
certain date, was not ready until the last moment. Mr. Speyer, the 
instant everything was finished, started for Washington with the 
papers — he was taking no chances of a slip-up. A snow storm burst 
with great fury while he was on the way and his train was stalled for 
what seemed to him an eternity. After overcoming considerable 
difficulties, he reached the capital in the nick of time. 

To his courage Mr. Speyer linked judgment. His command of 
foreign capital enabled him to do so much for the development of 
American transportation facilities that Speyer & Company soon be- 
came recognized as one of the three most influential international 
banking firms in the country. 

"Stand by your clients, ,, Mr. Speyer had had inculcated into him 
as the family motto. When B. & O. defaulted in 1896, Speyer & 
Company introduced a new policy in American banking by offering 
to buy the coupons on an issue they had sold, an example since fol- 
lowed by other high-grade issuing houses. In later times, when, 
partly because of hasty legislation and regulation, misfortune after 
misfortune overtook American railroads, driving one-sixth of the 
country's entire mileage into bankruptcy, Speyer & Company left 
no stone unturned to safeguard the interests of those who had en- 
trusted them with investment funds and finally secured successful 

"Jimmy" Speyer, as he is called by his friends, is an optimist. He 
believes in his fellowmen and in the future of his country. At times 
when many of his brother-bankers — on account of such things as the 
free silver agitation and hostile legislation and rulings against railroad 
and other corporations — were depressed and despairing of the future, 
Mr. Speyer remained confident. As president of the Economic Club, 
in 1912, in a debate on "Are Our Railroads Fairly Treated?" he said: 

"The American peoople love fair play and want to be fair. Let 
them know all the facts, and I am convinced we can safely trust their 
judgment and sense of honour to do the right and fair thing in the 
end. They always have done it, and they will also do so in this 


When occasion arose, he was eager to do his share in putting the 
facts before the public and its representatives. 

For instance, when the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad joined 
the nation-wide procession to the bankruptcy court, Mr. Speyer was 
so bent upon receiving fair treatment for investors that he abandoned 
his annual holiday and personally appeared before the Missouri Rail- 
road Commission and fought for a square deal — fought so successfully 
that his bondholders have emerged from the trouble unscathed. 
Also, when reflections were cast upon certain actions of Speyer & 
Company in connection with the Rock Island case, Mr. Speyer went 
direct to Washington, insisted on appearing before the Interstate 
Commerce Commission, and disproved convincingly all aspersions 
concerning his firm. 

Mr. Speyer does not look for, but is not afraid of, a fight, no matter 
how powerful his antagonist, when the interests of his clients are at 
stake. He holds that it is most unwise for bankers or others in a 
position of trust not to repudiate unjust attacks even though "dig- 
nity" might sometimes suggest remaining silent. But while he takes 
his responsibilities and duties very seriously, he is noted for his good 
humour and for his knack of overcoming threatened deadlocks or 
squabbles by cracking a joke or dropping some pointed witticism. 

It is recorded that at one very important conference over a proposed 
deal, much was being said by the other side regarding the desirability 
of " harmony. " The terms outlined, however, were not favourable to 
the interests of Speyer' s clients. So when he was asked for his opinion 
he replied that he would favour " harmony " only after the "harm" 
had been taken out of it! 

Speyer & Company have been and are international bankers in the 
fullest sense of the term. They took a lead in financing South Ameri- 
can projects, both in Bolivia and Ecuador; they provided the Mexican 
Government, when under Diaz and Limantour, with many millions of 
dollars to build railroads in that potentially rich but politically unfor- 
tunate country; they financed the Philippine Railway construction in 
1906 when Mr. Roosevelt was President and Mr. Taft Secretary of 
War, and later carried through the sale of these railways to the Philip- 
pine Government. They also took the first $35,000,000 loan to 
establish the credit of the new Republic of Cuba. 

It was with capital raised by the Speyers that London's underground 
railway system has been revolutionized. Sir Edgar Speyer, brother 
of the American head of the family, was the financial power behind this 
colossal undertaking and became chairman of the whole enterprise. 
When the problem arose of finding a practical man of sufficient calibre 
to handle so intricate and extensive a project, James Speyer cabled 
that he, through one of his Cleveland friends, knew the right man. 


This man was finally accepted by the London directors. He was 
none other than Albert Stanley, formerly manager of the Detroit 
Street Railways and subsequently manager of the New Jersey Public 
Service Corporation, who is now Sir Albert Stanley and one of 
Lloyd George's right-hand aides as Minister of Commerce and Presi- 
dent of the Board of Trade in the British Cabinet. Mr. Speyer is 
proud of this "find." 

As in his charity Mr. Speyer knows no difference in race, creed, or 
colour, so in politics he is distinctly non-partisan, independent. He^ 
was vice-president and treasurer of the German-American Reform 
Union in the Cleveland campaign of 1892, was a Chamber of Com- 
merce delegate to the Indianapolis Sound Money Conference in 1898, 
was a charter member of the Citizens' Union, was an active member 
of the Executive Committee of Seventy which routed Tammany 
Hall, and was a member of the Board of Education in New York City 
under Mayor Strong. 

For the last twenty years he has held no political office, but has 
preferred to devote much of his time to educational and other semi- 
public work. At their modest but beautifully situated country home, 
near Scarborough-on-the-Hudson, Mr. and Mrs. Speyer frequently 
entertain groups of working girls, educational associations and others 
active in the service of humanity — Mrs. Speyer' s interest in such 
work having been redoubled by her illuminating experience as chair- 
man of the Women's Section of Mayor Mitchel's Unemployment 
Committee in the winter of 1914-1915. 

Speyer & Company was the first private banking New York 
to adopt a pension fund for its employees. To get into the Speyer 
office is the ambition of half the workers in the financial district — 
especially in these days of high living cost. Perhaps the fact that 
Mr. Speyer sits in the same chair that was used by his father has some- 
thing to do with his consideration for his workers! The Speyer build- 
ing, the first low office building in New York, is an architectural gem; 
it is modelled after the old Pandolfini Palace in Florence, designed by 

In the Speyer home on Fifth Avenue are some fine paintings. But 
there is one, perhaps the least artistic of them all, which is held in 
special regard. It is a portrait of Mr. Speyer painted, not by a great 
master, but by an East Side boy who was attending the art class at 
the Eldridge Street University Settlement, and presented to Mr. 
Speyer in commemoration of the rounding out of twenty years' 
service by him on behalf of the institution and its humble aspirants 
for knowledge. 


MONSIEUR BONBON" is known by many children in 
Europe, especially in Southern France. He is the chil- 
dren's friend. His mission is to make children happy. 

He is an ardent motorist. But his enjoyment in motoring is 
greatly enhanced by scattering joy among juvenile hearts as he rides 
along. His car is especially fitted up for this purpose. It has a 
stand on which is a large basket. This is daily filled with specially 
made Parisian bonbons of the purest quality. There is also room for 
other little gifts and many of them. 

When "Monsieur Bonbon's" automobile is espied coming along 
the road, the village children on the Riviera shout with glee. The 
car stops, and Monsieur Bonbon lavishes upon them his good things 
— "papillotes " the little ones call the candy. 

Sometimes children in remote parts, to whom "Monsieur Bon- 
bon's" automobile is not familiar, do not understand when the 
stranger stops and hands them pretty gifts. They cannot analyze 
the motives of a stranger in lavishing upon them papillotes and other 
gifts. They receive a glimpse, wonderingly, of a new phase of life. 

The cures, the school teachers, and the parents of many hamlets 
know "Monsieur Bonbon" and seek occasion to express their grati- 
tude for the sunshine he brings into so many sombre young lives. 

"Monsieur Bonbon" is not a Frenchman; he is an American. 
"Monsieur Bonbon" is James Stillman, for years the most powerful 
national banker in America, the builder of the City Bank's Gibraltar- 
like foundations, the cooperator with Morgan in ushering in a new 
era of big business and a power second only to Morgan in shaping 
the financial destinies of the United States during the last years of the 
nineteenth and the first decade of the twentieth century. 

The American public have never looked upon James Stillman as a 
man of sentiment, as a man given to finding his chief delight in making 
thousands of little children happy, or even as a man planning and 
plodding mainly for patriotic motives to raise his bank and his native 
country to the very forefront of the financial and commercial nations 
of the earth. Mr. Stillman has been regarded by those not knowing 
him personally as cold, austere, unbending, uninterested in social 
activities, unnoted for philanthropy, bent solely on money-making. 

But the truth is I have rarely met a man more animated and moved 




by sentiment, by a desire to achieve things less for the sake of his 
own pocket than for the upbuilding of his country and her institutions. 
I know no one who has sought so assiduously to efface self and give 
credit to those about him. 

Indeed, the public's misconception of Mr. Stillman has been born 
largely by this policy of shunning the limelight, of evading publicity 
of every sort, and working always unostentatiously, unspectacularly, 
silently. That was his policy all through his active career and he has 
not modified it since he handed over the presidency of the National 
City Bank in 1909 to Frank A. Vanderlip, selected by Mr. Stillman 
as a vice-president several years before. 

"Mr. Stillman wore a shell during business hours/' declares one of 
his veteran associates. "His austerity, his apparent coldness, his 
reserve, his exclusiveness then seemed necessary. If he had kept 
open door and open house he would not have had time for the great 
constructive work in which he was engaged. The real Stillman was a 
very different being. He was a delightful companion. When off the 
business chain, he would unbend like a schoolboy. Instead of being 
stony-hearted as some of the public imagined, he was continually 
doing thoughtful things for others. He was always helping young 
people, but he did it so quietly that nobody knew anything about it." 

It seemed such a pity that a man of Mr. Stillman's extraordinary 
achievements should be content to close his business career without 
affording the public some adequate opportunity of becoming ac- 
quainted with his real self and his real character, the heart that beats 
beneath the shell which it was considered necessary to wear for busi- 
ness purposes. 

When I sought to persuade Mr. Stillman that he ought to throw 
off this business mask and let the public know him as I know him, he 

"I am willing to let my work speak for itself. I died, in a business 
sense, eight years ago and now am no longer an object of public in- 
terest. The men to write about are those who are in the thick of the 
fight. I am no longer an active worker; my sole desire is to give those 
who are following me the benefit of my experience whenever they 
feel they want my advice." 

Finally I persuaded Mr. Stillman to talk a little. 

"My conception of banking is that a bank's resources should be 
handled as a general handles his soldiers," he replied to my question- 
ing. "You must be strong in reserves. You must be ready to send 
reinforcements wherever needed. You must send your soldier-dollars 
wherever they can do most good. 

"A bank is to a country what the heart is to the body. It must 
pump the money through the commercial arteries, causing the whole 


body to function effectively. As the body depends on the proper 
working of the heart, so the business of a country depends upon the 
proper working of the banks. 

"I do not regard banking lightly. I do not regard it solely as a 
mere means of making money. I regard it as something essential to 
the well-being of the people and the prosperity of the country." 

The great industrial developments of the last quarter century and 
the place the United States was destined to fill in international finan- 
cial and commercial affairs were foreseen by Mr. Stillman. He in- 
augurated a new era in banking. 

When other important banks were reducing their capitals, President 
Stillman boldly increased the National City's capital, first from 
$1,000,000 to $10,000,000, in 1900, and then to $25,000,000 two years 
later. Without big banks there could be no big business. Banks 
with trifling capitals were not in keeping with billion-dollar corpora- 

Stillman's daring action startled the banking community. Other 
bankers could not see that an industrial and financial revolution was 
coming. Stillman had prescience, vision, and judgment beyond any 
banking competitor. He discerned that gigantic business organiza- 
tions demanded banks of commensurate size. There must be bank 
pillars strong enough to support the industrial structure. 

The Stillman lead was, of course, followed by others. Instead of 
reducing their capitals, first one bank and then another increased 

Stillman's master-stroke, combined with his unmatched capitalistic 
and business connections, placed his institution far in the forefront. 
Whereas it was not half the size of several other banks when Mr. Still- 
man took hold — its deposits in 1891 being only $12,000,000 — in two 
years it was the largest bank in New York with over $30,000,000 
deposits. The 1893 panic, in common with every other panic, sent 
many depositors to the City Bank, for in times of storm business in- 
terests felt it would be wise to have money there rather than in some 
institution of less standing and stability. Mr. Stillman had his own 
clear-cut, well-matured ideas of how a bank should be conducted. 
One basic idea was that a bank should, above all else, be strong; that 
it should carry, not the minimum reserve prescribed by law, but a 
stock of gold that would make it impregnable. 

"A bank is nothing but a bundle of debts," he used to impress upon 
his colleagues. As soon as he had time to find himself in the presi- 
dential chair he began filling the bank's vault with gold. When other 
institutions were shipping gold to London in 1893, the City Bank 
paid a premium to bring gold across the Atlantic. In one year he 
increased the institution's stock of the yellow metal from less than 


$2,000,000 to above $8,000,000. The 1893 panic, therefore, found 
the City Bank strong as a rock. By 1897 its deposits had reached 
$90,000,000, a new high record for the United States. 

Mr. Stillman was developing into a banker-statesman. Not con- 
tent to handle the most important transactions of his own country, 
he cast his eyes abroad. Why not have the National City Bank 
extend its activities to other lands? Branches could not be estab- 
lished because of the provisions of the National Bank Act, but in- 
fluential connections could be made in the important countries of the 

"What we now see taking concrete shape was foreseen and planned 
by Mr. Stillman in the late nineties/* one of his veteran colleagues 
informed me. "He foresaw that this great country, with its vast 
resources, its matchless energy, and its unlimited ambitions, was 
destined to become one of the greatest financial centres on the face of 
the earth. He saw that commerce was to become more and more 
international. The foundation was then laid for the enormous in- 
ternational superstructure now being erected by the City Bank and 
its allied organizations. 

"He also realized that the day of huge combinations and corpora- 
tions was at hand, and that larger banks than any then existing would 
be necessary to cope with the evolution." 

Hence Mr. Stillman's decision to increase the bank's capital beyond 
anything previously conceived. Hence, also, his policy of maintaining 
a gold reserve as high as 40 per cent, at times, despite protests that 
the carrying of so enormous a mass of idle money inordinately re- 
duced profits and dividends, for metal locked in a vault, instead of 
increasing earnings, was carried at a loss. Mr. Stillman, however, 
was building for the future. His duty, as he saw it, was to lay foun- 
dations whereon could be built the structure he foresaw. His motto 
was not "Make money," but "Build safely and strongly; look always 
to the future." 

One of Wall Street's sayings is, "Stillman refused more loans than 
any other banker who ever lived." He could conscientiously refuse 
to help other concerns to go deeper into debt since he had set an ad- 
mirable example by raising the capital and surplus of his own institu- 
tion to $40,000,000. 

"What you need is more capital, not more debts," he told many a 
merchant and manufacturer who wanted to over-extend. 

During his active banking career Stillman more than upheld the 
traditions of the old-fashioned banking type — not only in his social 
and professional deportment, but in the matter of brain-power, for 
the City Bank of to-day is largely a Vanderlip lighthouse built on 
strong rocks carefully selected and cemented by Stillman. In later 


years, however, Mr. Stillman has mellowed. Whereas he formerly 
inspired the respect of the bank's force, he now has won their affection. 
In commemoration of the bank's iooth anniversary, in 191 2, he pre- 
sented the City Bank Club with #100,000 and the directors added 
another $100,000. 

Mr. Stillman was fitted for college with the expectation of studying 
medicine and following this as a profession, but his father's serious 
illness at the time obliged him to abandon the career of his choice, and 
he thereupon entered the mercantile office of his father's agents in 
New York City and rapidly became acquainted with his business 
affairs. In a very short time he and William Woodward, the junior 
partner in the firm, succeeded to the business. Before Mr. Wood- 
ward's death, in 1889, he and Mr. Stillman had agreed to retire from 
active business in the following year and Mr. Stillman carried out 
this resolution. 

How Mr. Stillman came to be president of the City Bank is in- 

Moses Taylor, in his day the foremost American shipowner and 
commercial power in New York, was president of the National City 
Bank, and he and Mr. Stillman's father had long been friends. The 
Stillman children very often used to hear the name "City Bank," 
and it filled them with wonder. When they wanted to play at keeping 
a "City Bank" their father had an ample assortment of toy City 
Bank money made for them. This money, which did duty for many 
juvenile storekeeping transactions, was withdrawn from circulation 
many, many years ago, but is still held as a reserve more precious 
than gold. The tin box, marked "City Bank," with its contents, is 
now one of the cherished possessions of James Stillman. Although 
the coins in it are only worth their weight in iron, they could not be 
bought for their weight in gold. 

One of the biggest resolutions made by the boy Stillman was that 
one day when he was a man he would become a director of the City 
Bank. Not only did he attain this ambition before he was forty, 
but when forty-one he was made president of the bank. 

Moses Taylor had been succeeded by his son-in-law, Percy R. 
Pyne, who soon found that in James Stillman the bank had secured a 
director of rare ability. When Mr. Pyne's health gave way, Mr. Still- 
man was prevailed upon to take an interest in the management of the 
bank. His fitness for this work was so conspicuous that, when Mr. 
Pyne died, the directors insisted that there was only one man to take 
the place. 

Mr. Stillman had no aspirations to become a money king. He 
wanted rather to have leisure for travel, for art, and for the refinements 
and graces of life. He wanted to have time to live. As a strictly 


business proposition, the presidency of the National City Bank was 
a small thing for Mr. Stillman. He had already had a successful 
career as a merchant and possessed ample wealth. 

But sentiment played its part. The boy Stillman loved to play 
with toy City Bank money and now the institution needed some one 
to guide its destinies and handle its real money. Both Mr. Taylor 
and Mr. Pyne had been almost like a father to him. So James Still- 
man, at personal cost and inconvenience, responded to sentiment. 

His handling of National City Bank money has made history. 

But it has not engrossed his whole time and attention. It is now 
fashionable for bankers to be farmers. Mr. Stillman is not a mush- 
room banker-farmer; a full generation ago he established a large dairy 
farm and has continued to run it ever since. 

He was also a pioneer in yachting in this country. When some of 
those now most prominent in the New York Yacht Club were still 
in short trousers, Mr. Stillman was vice-commodore of the club, was 
captaining speedy yachts and was handling them with the skill of a 
veteran "salt." He is now among the senior members of a number 
of yacht clubs. 

When bicycles appeared, Mr. Stillman became a devotee of that 
sport. Now he is an equally enthusiastic motorist. " 

Mr. Stillman's name never figures in society columns. Yet proba- 
bly no living American banker has a larger circle of friends at home 
and abroad. His counsel is sought by prominent foreigners more 
often than the public could imagine. 

Although he now spends part of each year in Europe, Mr. Stillman 
is intensely American. He is a loyal member of the Society of Cin- 
cinnati, both his paternal and maternal ancestors having served as 
officers in the War of the Revolution, a record of which he is 

Since the outbreak of the European war "Monsieur Bonbon" has 
not forsaken his little French friends. Instead of bonbons, he, in 
cooperation with the French authorities, instituted an elaborate plan 
whereby thousands of needy families have been helped financially. 
In 1917, President Poincare announced that he had received a check 
from Mr. Stillman for a million francs ($200,000), to be used for 
the relief of children of members of the Legion of Honour claimed by 
the war. A little later Mr. Stillman headed, with a large check, a 
movement to raise another fund for the succour of war victims. He 
spent many months in France during 1917 doing everything within 
his power to aid the gallant Republic. On returning to New York 
he said of the French: "They will never be beaten. Such superb 
gallantry and esprit de corps can never be crushed." 

"When you see what is being done in France," said Mr. Stillman, 


"you forget about yourself, you forget everything in a consuming 
desire to help, help, help." 

But Mr. Stillman would not be drawn into any statement about his 
activities as "Monsieur Bonbon." When I questioned him he simply 
smiled and said: 

"If I have ever neglected my business, it has been because of my 
love for children." 

This is not all Mr. Stillman has done for France and its youth. 
Feeling that American architects had become the best in the world 
for modern requirements largely through the unlimited opportunities 
afforded them to study in Paris, Mr. Stillman, as a token of American 
appreciation and reciprocity, donated 500,000 francs as a fund for 
annual prizes for French students of architecture displaying the most 
promising genius. This little international act did not fail to reach 
the hearts of the French people. The name "James Stillman" has 
been engraved on the walls of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts to go down 
to future generations. 

Home students have not been forgotten by Mr. Stillman. Im- 
pressed by the fact that Harvard had no hospital accommodation 
for its thousands of students, years ago he gave the university an 
adequate hospital. 

I asked Mr. Stillman what his many-sided career and his leisure for 
reflection had taught him of the philosophy of life. 

"The elimination of self," he replied, "is one of the finest forms of 
philosophy and one of the greatest secrets of happiness." 



THEODORE NEWTON VAIL is the man who has put all 
Americans — North, South, East, and West — on speaking 

It has cost much brain-sweat, foresight, imagination, enthusiasm, 
courage — and a billion dollars. 

Nearly forty years ago, when Alexander Graham Bell's crude in- 
vention was but a toy, Vail conceived a picture of America cob- 
webbed with telephones, every citizen in telephonic communication 
with every other citizen no matter how remote. 

In 1916 a great engineering association, instead of calling a national 
convention in one city, conducted its proceedings by telephone in a 
score of cities at once, a motion being proposed by one city, seconded 
by another, and adopted by all simultaneously! 

Was ever youthful vision more gloriously fulfilled ? 

"Compared with what could have been achieved, very little has 
been achieved/' was Mr. Vail's own comment when I remarked that 
his dream had come true. He doubtless had in mind the govern- 
mental shattering of one scheme referred to later. 

"But you have accomplished a lot more than any other man in 
your line," I argued. "How did you succeed in doing so much more 
than the average man attains?" 

"By never being unwilling, when young, to do another man's work, 
and then, when older, by never doing anything somebody else could 
do better for me. I was always fond enough of detail to master thor- 
oughly what I was undertaking — and then hated detail enough not 
to bother with it when I got to the treatment of the general subject." 

The United States has twice as many telephones as all the rest of 
the world. Our farmers alone have more than the entire population 
of England, France, or Germany. 

Just what is the extent of the telephone business in this country? 

To-day there are some 10,000,000 Bell telephones in the United 
States, or, roughly, one for every two families throughout the length 
and breadth of the land. 

Between 26,000,000 and 27,000,000 telephone talks are held every 
day, or at the rate of 9,000,000,000 — nine billion — a year. 

The "American Tel. & Tel." has some 19,000,000 miles of wire, 
enough to stretch from the earth to the moon eighty times, enough 



to circle the earth 760 times, enough to string 5,500 wires between 
New York and San Francisco. 

It has assets of over #1,000,000,000, making it one of America's 
two " billion-dollar " industrial corporations. 

Its receipts pour in at the rate of #5,000,000 every week. 

It pays dividends of well over half a million dollars weekly to 
over 100,000 stockholders, of whom one-third are Bell employees and 
one-half are women. 

It has more than 150,000 employees and, with growing business, is 
swelling the number by one thousand a month. 

The story of how Theodore N. Vail came to "enter into partner- 
ship with electricity" is inspiring to young America. 

A father of Quaker descent and a mother of Dutch descent, both 
born in New Jersey, for generations the home of their ancestors, were 
temporarily residing in Carroll County, Ohio, when (July 16, 1845) 
a son was born to them. They called him Theodore Newton, his 
last name being Vail. Two years later they moved to their native 
state and lived there until 1866, when they settled in Iowa. Before 
leaving New Jersey the boy Vail had studied medicine with an uncle. 
After opening the farm in Iowa he left it to his brothers and followed 
Horace Greeley's "Go West, young man" advice. He wanted a bit 
of adventure and world knowledge. He had not as yet settled down 
to the hard realities of life. 

While in Morristown, N. J., he had picked up telegraphy, an uncle, 
Alfred Vail, having been associated with and having financed F. S. B. 
Morse in the practical and mechanical development of the telegraph. 
The Union Pacific gave young Vail a start as agent and operator at 
a box-car station. 

Before long he entered the railway mail service. It was not much 
of a "service" in those days. There was no real sorting system on 
the trains, no attempt to route letters direct to any but the larger 
cities, no schedule for making advantageous train connections. 
Sacks were dumped out unceremoniously here, there, and every- 

Vail set himself to devising a better system. He collected every 
time-table fact, studied every railroad connection, figured out the 
quickest routes to reach each place from every other place, and com- 
piled a sort of railway mail guide. This enabled him to handle mail 
with a celerity never before known. 

Incidents illumine characters and careers. A snowslide once 
blocked the line, and train after train had to pull up on either side. 
The order was given to transfer all passengers, baggage, and mail 
from one side of the barrier to the other, so that the trains could 
return, thus, in effect, overcoming the blockade. There were hun- 


dreds of mail sacks to pull or carry over the snow. It was technically 
the railroad men's duty to do the work. But they had their hands 
more than full. Vail suggested that the thirty or more mail clerks 
should get busy. They refused; it wasn't their job to tussle with 
cold, icy sacks over snow-piles. Vail started in and, with two or 
three willing helpers, did the whole work. 

Washington spotted the young reformer. If he could so reorganize 
his local mail delivery, why couldn't he do as much for other parts 
of the country? To Washington he was summoned, as assistants 
superintendent of mail service, and so valuable did his work prove 
that, although the youngest officer in the service, he was shortly made 
general superintendent. 

He recast the delivery service of the whole country. His reforms, 
however, cut into the revenues of certain railroads and the politicians 
got on his track. They wanted him to alter his schedules for the 
benefit of special interests. He told them he was working, not for the 
railroads, but for the Government and for the benefit of the public. 
This brought trouble. 

Senator Beck of Kentucky, a strong-willed old Scot, had been par- 
ticularly insistent in trying to browbeat Vail into altering his plans. 
But Vail stood by his guns. By and by an attempt was made in 
Congress to cut down the troublesome superintendent's travelling 
expenses and a bitter debate arose. Much to Vail's surprise, Senator 
Beck acknowledged that he had had an encounter with the young 
man, but had found him inflexible in doing his duty — and he voted 
in Vail's favour, helping to win the day. 

Meanwhile, Inventor Bell and his chief sponsor, Gardiner G. Hub- 
bard, his father-in-law, were meeting the fate of most pioneers. 
Their "toy" had been exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in 
Philadelphia and had afforded novel amusement; but when they 
sought to introduce it commercially they were ridiculed — the London 
Times called it "the latest American humbug." To make matters 
worse, the Western Union Telegraph Company, then one of the most 
powerful organizations in the country, began to fight them and 
thwart them at every turn, even going the length, finally, of estab- 
lishing a rival telephone enterprise with the aid of an improved trans- 
mitter invented by Edison. 

Hubbard wanted a fighter, a man of force, nerve, and brains. He 
knew Vail, and knew that Vail was the man he wanted. 

"I gave up a $3,500 salary for no salary," Mr. Vail dryly remarked 
later. As general manager of the American Bell Telephone Company 
he was to get $5,000 when he could collect it — which was seldom ! 

Vail, an expert telegrapher, had unbounded faith in the telephone. 
He knew it could not only be used for local purposes, but that it would 


one day cover the entire Union. And he at once started working 
toward that end. 

He early induced Charlie Glidden, of balloon fame, to build a line 
from Lowell to Boston. 

"Let's build a line from Boston to Providence," he next suggested 
to his company. They laughed at him. It was a terrible struggle, 
but he went ahead. 

The treasurer's records show such items as: "Lent Bell 50c; 
lent Vail 25c." 

Alas! the line, when finally completed, would not, at first, work! 

"Did you become discouraged ?" I recently asked Mr. Vail, re- 
ferring to those days. 

"If I did," he replied with a significant smile, "I never let any- 
body know it." 

Here is a sample of the spirit and foresight then animating the 
general manager of the Bell Telephone: 

"Tell our agents that we have a proposition on foot to connect 
the different cities for the purpose of personal communication 
and in other ways to organize a grand telephone system" 

"Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones 
that are unconquerable," he used to admonish faint-hearted col- 

A line from Boston to New York was Vail's next venture. A com- 
pany, called the Governors' Company, was organized. It was com- 
posed of five governors and two laymen, but they became discouraged 
and the company took the line over. But it proved a success after 
the public realized just what the new venture meant* in the way of 

Before Vail took hold with his bulldog grip, the Bell people, in 
despair, had offered to sell out to the Western Union for #100,000. 
Now the Western Union were willing to pay $100,000 a year to get 
rid of Vail! They pulled wires to have alluring positions offered 
him by influential railroad companies. Vail, however, fought on. 
He stayed by the Bell Company until it conquered all obstacles, 
inspired confidence in itself and the usefulness of its service, and could 
command capital on reasonable terms to expand from city to city. 

In 1887, having fought his fight and won, he bought a 200-acre 
farm in northern Vermont, where he planned to live when not en- 
joying travel, to which he looked forward. 

His business career was to have ended then. But Mr. Vail's life 
was to consist of three chapters. 

On a tour through South America he visited Buenos Aires, was 
struck with the possibilities of transforming its horse-car street 


railways into electric lines by utilizing water-power from newly 
constructed reservoirs, bought a broken-down but strategic line 
(one of a dozen then in operation), transformed it into a road as 
fine as anything in the States, bought in outdistanced lines at his 
own price, built up an elaborate traction system with the aid of 
American and, later, British capital — and made money. 

As a side line he installed electric lighting and telephone systems 
in various cities. 

His activities took him to Europe frequently. At one time he had 
business headquarters in London, although he contrived to spend 
many months in Paris and in Italy, both of which he found fasci- 

But rock-ribbed Vermont kept a-calling him. So he sold out his 
foreign interests for a handsome sum and, a second time, returned to 
Speedwell Farm (so named after his maternal ancestors), determined 
to devote the remainder of his days to scientific agriculture. 

He added to his 200-acre farm until it became 6,000 acres and con- 
ducted his farming with all the zeal he had thrown into fighting the 
Bell telephone battles. He bred the finest horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, 
and poultry. He went in for the proper rotation of crops. He used 
fertilizers. In short, he became a model farmer on a huge scale, 
demonstrating that farming in the Green Mountain State could be 
made to pay. 

Of greater moment, he taught other farmers how to get the most 
out of their soil. To aid in this work, he donated land to the State, 
reorganized the Lyndon Institute and organized the Lyndon School 
of Agriculture, supervised their equipment, took a very active part 
in developing them, and spent a large part of his time in furthering 
the welfare of the pupils and their parents. The purpose was and is 
to make good housewives of the girls and skilful farmers of the boys; 
also, to stimulate, by example, scientific, profitable farming. 

To this tranquil, useful life, with his wife and only son, Theodore 
N. Vail retired. 

Chapter III opened in May, 1907. 

Financial rumblings were frightening bankers and business men in 
the spring of that fateful year. Capital was pulling into its shell, 
scenting over-expansion of credit. Stocks and bonds crumbled. 
New securities could not be sold. Public sentiment was antagonistic 
to Big Business. 

The American Telephone & Telegraph Company was in a worse 
plight than most enterprises. Less competent rivals had raised such 
a noise that State legislatures were considering harassing laws, the 
Courts were inimical, and the Federal Government was being urged 
to either "bust" or take over the "Telephone Trust." 


Where — to whom — could the directors turn ? 

There was one man, of course, who could deliver them out of all 
their troubles, but he had retired, was past sixty, did not need any 
more money, and was enjoying the peaceful life of a farmer. 

They looked around everywhere. Nobody else was in sight. 

In desperation a delegation of directors journeyed to Lyndon, Vt. 
They found a modern Cincinnatus engrossed in his spring plowing. 
They appealed to him to come and save the company he had given 
his best years to build up. The welfare of the nation was likewise 
at stake, they urged. 

The veteran telephone wizard could not bear the idea of the great 
system conceived and nurtured by him going down, or, if it was des- 
tined to go under, he was prepared to go down with it. 

Their appeal to his loyalty and his patriotism struck a responsive 
chord. His life's companion had died two years before and his only 
son, a stalwart Harvard athlete, had been carried off by typhoid 
a year later. Life on the farm since then had had its lonely 

"I'll come," Vail consented. 

He straightway raised $21,000,000 new capital — and raised a 
quarter of a billion in the next six years with remarkable skill. Through 
his timely action the corporation weathered the terrible panic of 
October-November, 1907, without a tremor. 

He disarmed public and legislative antagonisms by frankly coming 
out for "one system" and demonstrating the uselessness of two or 
more vital systems, by openly proclaiming himself in favour of regula- 
tion of all public utilities and offering to cooperate loyally with Public 
Service Commissions. 

He mollified rivals by granting exchange facilities to some, selling 
Bell instruments to others, and offering to pay a fair price to those 
who wanted to sell out. 

He gained the enthusiastic support of employees by treating them 
with increased generosity and by setting aside millions for old age 
pensions, sickness, and accident benefits. 

He won the encomiums of subscribers by improving and extending 
the Bell service with a rapidity and on a scale never before known. 
His motto then and always has been: "Build ahead of the public 
demand. Lead, don't lag." 

Vail proved himself not merely the master of intercommunication 
but a business statesman. 

Still greater ambitions, however, possessed him. He had, a gen- 
eration before, mail-mapped America. Now he conceived something 
greater, something in harmony with the spirit of the twentieth cen- 
tury — Speed. 


Theodore N. Vail believes that most wars are bred of misunder- 
standing, and that if nations and individuals learned to know one 
another, to understand one another, to fraternize with one another, 
they would lose all desire to murder one another. His mission in 
life has been to put people in closer touch, to bring them together no 
matter how far separated, to annihilate distance and delay. 

The telephone had done much toward this end, but his genius 
gave birth to a wider idea. 

"Twentieth Century Limiteds" and other famous railroad fliers* 
were, to his mind, too slow for transporting mails. They travelled 
less than a hundred miles an hour; Vail favoured thousands of miles 
a minute. 

Why not have tel-letters? Why not have all important letters 
from city to city telegraphed over the wires at the cost of only a 
few postage stamps? 

As a preliminary step, Vail one day in 1910 signed a $30,000,000 
check which bought control of the Western Union Telegraph Com- 
pany. Radical reforms were at once introduced — cheap night letters, 
lower rates for deferred messages, cable tolls within the reach of all, 
telephoned telegrams, etc., etc. 

Meanwhile, the revolutionary tel-letter was being worked out. 
But the telegraph-telephone combine was held by the Attorney- 
General of the United States Government to be contrary to the law, 
and by its dissolution was lost to America and Americans a system 
of communication that would have revolutionized letter-writing. 

Briefly, Mr. Vail was perfecting plans to use his vast network of 
wires, always idle at night, for the telegraphing of letters overnight 
by a new, time-saving apparatus, the receiving office to put the tel- 
letter in an envelope and drop it in the mail so that the local recipient 
would have it on his desk in the morning. Thus, New York or near-by 
business houses could either deliver tel-letters to a local Western 
Union-American Telegraph office or send them by mail after business 
hours. The letters would be telegraphed on to Chicago, St. Louis, 
San Francisco, or elsewhere overnight at the rate of thousands of 
words per hour, and re-mailed at the other end. 

By eliminating all collection and delivery charges — except the 
two-cent stamp — and by using wires which would otherwise be lying 
"dead," the cost of a tel-letter would have been almost nominal. 

And it would have put every city in the United States within 
overnight mailing distance of every other city! 

But the Department of Justice was obdurate, and thus was lost a 
boon which would have been as great to America as the blighting of 
it was a disappointment to its originator. 

Mr. Vail, however, is too much of a philosopher to let anything 


sour him — he drops epigrammatic philosophy with all the readiness 
and richness of the late James J. Hill. 

"The most amazing thing about Vail," said one of his friends, 
"is that he has all the enthusiasm, imagination, and daring of a 
man of twenty-four and can blend and combine them with the ripe 
experience of his seventy-odd years. The result is a remarkable — 
what shall I say? The result is — well, Theodore N. Vail." 

While Mr. Vail loves work he also loves play. He rides; drives a 
spanking team through Vermont's mountains and valleys; lives 
partly on his yacht in summer. He took part in securing grand 
opera for Boston. And to quote one of his chums, "He can order a 
dinner better than any one I know." 

"I have always contrived to enjoy life as I went along," admitted 
Mr. Vail. One of his axioms is: "Make the best of everything 
rather than fret over what you can't get." Another is: "Success 
is measured, not by material gains, but by doing work well and 

The result is that he is a fine specimen of septuagenarian, his mas- 
sive forehead crowned with a rich crop of white hair, his eye clear 
and keen, his face often given to smiling. 

New York University signalized the esteem in which Mr. Vail is 
held by conferring on him, in June, 1917, the honorary degree of 
Doctor of Commercial Science. 

He has the satisfying knowledge that he has contributed much to 
enhancing the amenities of life in America. His faith in the future 
is such that he believes the time is near when it will be possible to 
speak from one end of the earth to the other as easily as we now speak 
from house to house. 



CORNELIUS VANDERBILT III could say with the man of 
no illustrious family who was being quizzed as to his fitness 
for admission to a society whose members prided themselves 
upon their blue blood: "Gentlemen, I am an ancestor. ,, 

This member of the Vanderbilt dynasty is no ordinary rich man's 
son. He has demonstrated his ability to stand on his own feet, to 
carve his own path through life, to build his own monument. 

Early in life he manifested self-reliance, courage, and independence 
of wealth. He proved his manliness by marrying the woman of his 
choice, even at the cost of his inheritance. Instead of indulging in 
the lazy life of leisure typical of many gilded youths, he donned 
overalls and went to work among the grime, the heat, and the hurry 
of railroad machine shops, used both his brains and his hands to such 
purpose that he not only earned from Yale the degree of Mechanical 
Engineer in addition to his A.B., but evolved inventions so valuable 
that they were adopted by leading railroads. He became, too, a 
volunteer soldier, not of the armchair, fireside species, but a soldier 
ready on every occasion to discharge his full duties whether in the 
armory, in manoeuvres, in the field on the Mexican border, or, more 
recently, in active service in the European war, at all times sharing the 
common lot. He is a sailor, also, and has piloted his own craft across 
the Atlantic, into every nook and corner of the Mediterranean and 
along the coast of Europe, meeting and mixing with crowned heads 
and commoners alike. 

In business his technical knowledge, combined with his industry 
and his financial ability, enabled him early to make his mark. To 
Cornelius Vanderbilt, New York, in considerable measure, owes its 
subways, for he undertook an exhaustive investigation of under- 
the-ground transportation in London, Paris, and elsewhere and then 
joined forces with August Belmont in organizing the Interborough 
Rapid Transit Company, of which he is still an influential director. 

Yet this inventor, engineer, soldier, sailor, financier, patriot, and 
millionaire member of a millionaire family is the most unobtrusive, 
self-effacing figure of the younger generation of "doers." 

"I always had my own workshop as a boy as early as I can re- 
member," was his modest statement when I pressed him to explain 
how he came to be an inventor. "I must have been born with a 



liking for mechanics, as I constantly played and later worked with 
tools and machinery. After my graduation from Yale it was logical 
for me to take up a post-graduate course in engineering. In the 
course of my studies I spent a good deal of time in the motive-power 
and engineering department of the New York Central, trying to 
acquire practical knowledge." 

"Yes, but thousands of other young men have studied engineering 
and worked in machine shops without inventing anything. What 
diverted your mind into this channel, what led you to think up new 
devices and to become an inventor?" I persisted. Mr. Vanderbilt 
manifestly was discomfited by my cross-questioning. An assault was 
being made upon his modesty and his reserve. 

" I had not then taken on business responsibilities or interests. My 
mind was occupied with engineering problems and my study of them 
led me, as it would lead any one else, to investigate whether improved 
methods or appliances could not be devised." 

"What was the first patent you took out?" I asked. 

"The first thing I patented was a new kind of tender, a cylindrical 
tender which saved weight and expense." Mr. Vanderbilt might 
have added, but he didn't, that the Vanderbilt road, the New York 
Central, did not show him partiality by adopting his money-sav- 
ing invention; the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific were the 
first important railroads to adopt the Vanderbilt tender as stand- 

What heights Cornelius Vanderbilt might have reached as an in- 
ventor, had not a turn of the wheel of fortune changed the course of 
his life, may only be guessed. At this stage he was drawn into the 
financial and business arena by reason of having acquired investments 
totalling millions in various enterprises which demanded his personal 

As early as when he was attending St. Paul's School in New York, 
Cornelius Vanderbilt displayed individualistic traits. He did not 
feel that his rank conferred on him any little or big privileges over the 
other boys. Not only was he essentially democratic, but his skill in 
his workshop, his ability to fix up any juvenile possession that needed 
repair, made him very popular. At the same time, although small in 
stature — even to-day he weighs less than 140 pounds — young Corne- 
lius was no mollycoddle, no easy mark, no doormat. He had a will 
of his own and courage to maintain it. As he grew a little older his 
mechanical ingenuity made him something of a hero in the eyes of his 

He entered college in 1891 when seventeen years old and was 
graduated from Yale in 1895 but enrolled in the Sheffield Scientific 
School as a student of mechanical engineering. Most of his spare 


time was spent in the New York Central office, where he worked as 
intently as any apprentice. 

Then romance entered the young inventor's life. He became en- 
gaged to Miss Grace Wilson, a young woman of the highest character. 
His father, Cornelius Vanderbilt, objected, however, to the choice of 
his eldest son. The young man revealed all the grit, determination, 
and resolution of his noted namesake, the founder of the Vanderbilt 
fortune. Instead of giving up his fiancee he elected rather to give up 
his inheritance. His father, as the phrase went at the time, "cut 
him off with a million," leaving the rest of his enormous fortune to the 
other children, the largest share going to Alfred, the younger brother 
of Cornelius. Cornelius went on his way studying and working and 
inventing. He won his Ph.B. in 1898 and was graduated with the 
M.E. degree in the following year. By that time his genius was 
widely recognized. 

A re-alignment of the family fortune was brought about, and Cor- 
nelius's holdings now demanded so much of his time and attention 
that his career as an inventor was sacrificed, although, as a matter of 
fact, even to this day Mr. Vanderbilt's office suggests the engineer and 
inventor more than the financier. In his very unpretentious offices 
in the financial district are all sorts of charts and plans, blue-prints 
and novel mechanical paraphernalia. He became in time a director 
of the Illinois Central R. R., the Delaware & Hudson, the Missouri 
Pacific, the American Express Company, Lackawanna Steel Co., 
National Park Bank, Harriman National Bank, U. S. Mortgage & 
Trust Co., Provident Loan Society, Interborough Rapid Transit Co., 
and a trustee of the Mutual Life Insurance Co. 

"Yes, I am a thorough believer in insurance and the thrift that it 
stimulates," Mr. Vanderbilt told me. 

It is well known throughout the financial district that Cornelius 
Vanderbilt is not an ornamental director. He will not lend his name 
to any board unless he means to give its affairs serious and sustained 
personal attention. One financier associated with him in various 
enterprises remarked to me: "Colonel Vanderbilt is a director who 
directs. He is no dummy. He insists upon receiving full reports and 
analyzes them closely. When any special committee is to be elected 
to do real hard work, Colonel Vanderbilt is invariably named for it. 
He is a worker." 

You will often notice the name of Cornelius Vanderbilt on citizens' 
committees elected by the Mayor of New York. It is notorious that 
on such committees half the members do nothing. But Mr. Vander- 
bilt is not of this type. As chairman of the reception to the Atlantic 
Fleet in 1915, for example, he toiled day and night to insure the suc- 
cess of the various functions. He was also chairman of the great 


reception to ex-President Roosevelt on his return from Africa. Like 
another scion of a notable American family, Vincent Astor, he is al- 
ways prepared to discharge his share of civic responsibilities. 

But it is as a volunteer soldier that Cornelius Vanderbilt is best 
known to the public. No other civilian, of either high or low degree, 
has worked more conscientiously or more zealously than Colonel 
Vanderbilt to arouse interest in strengthening the military position 
of this country. He is not in the service for glory; he has been actu- 
ated solely by a desire to do all within his power to protect his native 
land from danger from whatever source. He regards this as one of 
the cardinal duties of citizenship. 

There have been many recent converts to "preparedness." Cor- 
nelius Vanderbilt is not of this class. As long ago as 1901 he joined 
the 1 2th New York Infantry, threw himself into the work with charac- 
teristic zeal, and rose to the rank of captain after eight years' service. 
Major-General Roe, who then commanded the State National Guard, 
appointed him an aide and when General Roe was succeeded in 191 2 
by Major-General O'Ryan as commander of the Guard, Cornelius 
Vanderbilt was promoted to be one of the inspector-generals of the 
state with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. 

When the President's call came for Mexican service, in 1916, Colonel 
Vanderbilt at once responded. To meet Federal regulations the rank 
of all Guard staff officers was lowered a step, and Colonel Vanderbilt 
then became Major Vanderbilt, Inspector of the Sixth Division. In 
the field, under all the discomforts and difficulties that beset actual 
service, on the dusty, scorching border, Cornelius Vanderbilt was seen 
at his best. He was no kid-glove soldier. He scorned to pamper 
himself by setting up a menage beyond reach of unwealthy comrades. 
When Kitchener went to South Africa to fight the Boers he dis- 
covered that not a few aristocratic officers had pianos and all sorts of 
paraphernalia trailed after them so that these Johnnies could enjoy 
themselves thoroughly. Had Cornelius Vanderbilt been on service 
in Africa Kitchener would have had no occasion to reprimand him for 
the amount of his impedimenta. 

It is Colonel Vanderbilt' s creed that men who voluntarily devote 
themselves to become capable defenders of the nation deserve well 
at the nation's hands. When, therefore, the many thousands of 
guardsmen on duty on the Mexican border were to lose their vote at 
the Presidential election because of their absence from their home 
states, he had a test case made of his application for an order per- 
mitting him to register—- and won. This incident is significant of his 
whole conception of soldiering and citizenship. 

"I am a staunch believer in the National Guard. It develops men, 
it develops their character, it develops their physique," he declared 


very earnestly to me. "The country ought to be prepared to defend 

By common consent, Cornelius Vanderbilt was made chairman of 
the Mayor's Committee on National Defense organized in New 
York in 191 5, simultaneously with the creation of similar committees 
throughout the country. At the Convention of Mayors and Mayors' 
Committees on National Defense, held at St. Louis in March, 1916, 
he made a rousing address. 

"Colonel Vanderbilt would rather have faced a charge of Germans 
than stand on that platform to make a speech," one of his friends 
assured me. "Without doubt it was the most trying ordeal of his 
life, he is so averse to anything savouring of strutting or posing or 
thrusting himself into the limelight. Only his deep sense of respon- 
sibility and the urgency for action impelled him to make that public 

In his speech, "The Navy, Our First Line of Defense," he showed 
his contempt for mere lip-patriots by declaring with great force that 
"the nation cannot be preserved merely by displaying the American 
flag over the door." 

"The decision of our forefathers at the first crisis created this 
nation," he said; "the decision of their sons at the second crisis pre- 
served the Union from internal disruption, and our decision in this 
third crisis is to determine whether this nation shall be preserved from 
external domination. 

"Is the American of to-day ready to perform this duty; is he less 
patriotic, less willing to sacrifice than his forbears; has a lip-loyalty 
replaced that spirit of valour and devotion which gave us our in- 
heritance? It sometimes appears that prosperity and good fortune 
have blunted our sense of duty to our country, and that we have come 
to expect favours from, rather than to render service to, our Govern- 

"The War of the Revolution was won only after eight years of strife in 
which 395,000 men were enrolled in the American Army to fight forces 
which at no time exceeded one-tenth of that number; in the War of 
1 81 2 over 500,000 men were called out to fight, generally unsuccess- 
fully, a total force that never equalled 10 per cent, of that number. 

"It is impossible to conceive of any better proof of the incompetence 
of an army of untrained citizens with no other military qualification 
than bravery. 

"When we realize that the largest navy the world has ever known 
has only 250,000 men, it is absurd to suppose that any navy this 
country is likely to have — even if as large as the largest — will be 
sufficient in size to corrupt or overawe a population of over a hundred 
millions, or will incur an expense large enough to imperil our budget. 


"Great Britain, though but a few miles from her enemy, relies on 
her ships, and no foe as yet has set foot upon her soil. Huge armies 
have not saved Russia or France from invasion; Italian troops are in 
Austrian territory; France occupies part of German Alsace; in short, 
armies have not saved their countries from invasions; navies have — 
and still do. 

"Whatever the final lessons may be, we have not only to build those 
types of vessels chosen by our possible enemies, but we should steadily 
construct at least four ships of each type to their three. 

"This is what we should recommend to our representatives in Con- 
gress and thus insist on a return as soon as possible to our position of 
at least second naval power. We should also recommend a corres- 
ponding increase in the officers and men to man these vessels. 

"Let us realize and remember that the nation cannot be preserved 
merely by displaying the American flag over the door." 

Announcement of Cornelius Vanderbilt's promotion in December, 
1916, to the Colonelcy of the 22nd New York Engineers was every- 
where hailed as a just recognition of his fifteen years' active service 
as a volunteer soldier. It is interesting to know that his military 
career has exerted a marked influence on other men and boys in his 
family and to-day four Vanderbilts are enrolled in their country's 
service. When, in August, 191 7, Colonel Vanderbilt rode through 
New York at the head of his regiment on its departure for training pre- 
paratory to service in Europe, this reception testified to his popularity. 

While Mr. Vanderbilt could not be called a politician, he has all 
along taken a rational interest in public affairs. He was a delegate 
to the Republican State Convention in Saratoga in 1900 and his cus- 
tomary industry soon won him the chairmanship of the delegation. 
He was a member of the Civil Service Commission under Mayor Low. 

Among yachtsmen he is regarded as a prince, and was honoured by 
election to the coveted office of Commodore of the New York Yacht 

Mrs. Vanderbilt, in her own sphere, is just as active and public- 
spirited. She has rendered yeoman service in Red Cross and in 
Belgian Relief work. The Vanderbilts do a rational amount of 
entertaining, both at their Newport cottage and at their home in 
Fifth Avenue, New York. Their society activities are characterized 
by simplicity and commonsense. 

They have two children. Cornelius IV enlisted as a private when 
the United States declared war against Germany. 

Could Commodore Vanderbilt survey things to-day I rather think 
that Cornelius Vanderbilt III would be viewed by him as a not un- 
worthy descendant. 

He is, indeed, an ancestor. 



WHAT has been the hardest step of all in your career?" 
"To get out of rny overalls." 
That was the reply flashed back by the former farm 
boy and machine-shop apprentice who is to-day head of the greatest 
national bank in the United States, head of the American Interna- 
tional Corporation which is extending America's foreign commercial 
and financial ramifications, head of the International Banking Cor- 
poration with its branches in many lands, head of the Midvale Steel 
& Ordnance Co., a director and constructive force in leading railroads, 
and upbuilder of industry. 

The story of Frank A. Vanderlip's rise from poverty and obscurity 
to wealth and power is rich with lessons for both young America and 
mature America. It is a record of difficulties overcome by uncon- 
querable perseverance, of zeal and efficiency in every station of life, 
of fair dealing and foresight. 

"What lessons have your experiences taught you?" I recently 
asked Mr. Vanderlip. 

"That power is nothing but a responsibility to do the right thing. 
Since nothing is ever settled until it is settled right, no matter how 
unlimited power a man may have, unless he exercises it fairly and 
justly, his actions will return to plague him. 

"Also, in order to succeed, a young man must not only spend a 
full day at his work, but must devote another day learning what his 
work means, its relation to the scheme of things." 

In the past, history was made by the spilling of blood. In future, 
it is to be made largely by banking and commerce. 

Mr. Vanderlip to-day is the most aggressive financier in America. 
From his brain has come the #50,000,000 financial corporation which 
plans to develop new fields for American products, for American 
capital, and for American men. The transformation of the American 
dollar from a national to an international instrument is in no small 
measure the work of his institution. He is doing more than any other 
man to make New York an international financial centre comparable 
with London. The National City Bank, with its deposits of more 
than $600,000,000, ranks among the six largest banks in the world, 
and does more business in its head office than is done under any other 
non-governmental banking roof on the face of the earth. 



That is the Vanderlip that the world knows. 

There is a Frank Vanderlip that the world does not know, one he 
never mentions even to intimates. Perhaps the work of this Unknown 
Vanderlip may have had something to do with the success of Banker 
Vanderlip. It at least reveals why he deserved to succeed. 

The Unknown Vanderlip is Vanderlip the silent philanthropist. 

When a struggling reporter in Chicago, supporting six dependents, 
he used to rent a place near his birthplace and send group after group 
of city waifs to enjoy a stay there in the summer-time. At Christ- 
mas, instead of "exchanging" presents, he and his sister played 
Santa Claus among the poor on a scale that involved real self-sacri- 

On entering the Treasury Department at Washington he took 
several of his poor boy friends with him, found them work and brought 
them up in his own home. Several of them have since made their 

He has put and is putting numbers of deserving young men 
through college. 

He has, out of his own pocket, built a model school at a cost of 
$200,000 on his estate at Scarborough-on-the-Hudson where scholar- 
ships are provided for children of exceptional ability who are unable 
to pay the low tuition fees. 

The City Bank's comprehensive plan for educating its employees 
and for giving a course of training to selected students from the 
leading universities, a vitally important movement, is a growth of 
this same spirit. 

A friend told me how he was motoring in the White Mountains 
with Mr. Vanderlip when they met a poor barefoot lad whose face 
appealed to the banker. The car was stopped and Mr. Vanderlip 
chatted with the little fellow. "And Mr. Vanderlip spent the rest 
of the afternoon cogitating how he could take that barefoot child 
out of his unpromising surroundings and give him a chance to make 
his way in the world," he added. 

Mr. Vanderlip is one of the increasing number of eminent business 
leaders who are more interested in making men than in making mil- 

In his youth Vanderlip had to mould circumstances to his will. 
He had to burst the bonds of an environment that was as a strait- 

Of pioneer stock, he was born on a large farm not far from Aurora, 
111., fifty-two years ago. His father died when Frank, the eldest of 
three children, was only twelve. Duties and responsibilities early 
became his lot, for the farm yielded but a scanty livelihood. He had 
an intense thirst for knowledge and read every one of the few books 


he could lay his hands on. These included a complete edition of 
Shakespeare, the Arabian Nights, and a few old-fashioned magazines. 

Since incidents illumine careers, it was significant how he spent 
the first money he earned. 

For faithfully acting as nursemaid to thirty-seven calves during a 
whole summer he was allowed to choose one of them, and he sold it 
for twelve dollars. In a near-by hamlet hung a poster announcing 
that ten dollars would bring the New York Weekly Tribune for five 
years and, as a premium, a "Webster's Unabridged Dictionary." 
The ten-dollar bill was promptly dispatched, and for five years the 
country lad devoured every line appearing in the Tribune. 

At school he was dux in mathematics, but a dufFer at spelling. 
When he was sixteen the farm, heavily mortgaged, was sold and the 
family moved to Aurora. On Frank the duty of supporting the 
household mainly devolved, for the life insurance of his father was 
not touched by his prudent mother, not even to send him to college. 

He took a job in a machine shop, and for running a lathe ten hours 
he received seventy-five cents a day. "I took this job, not because it 
was the kind of work I wanted, but because it was the only job I 
could get," he has since said. 

He at once began to study his new task and the things related to 
it. The two things that interested him most were the new force 
that was beginning to create a furore in the world — electricity, and 
drawing. He watched the draughtsmen using mathematics, and he 
determined to study advanced mathematics and drawing. But 
there were no evening schools and no teachers. However, by paying 
a man fifty cents an hour — two-thirds of what he earned all day — 
he got lessons in descriptive geometry and draughting. The family 
purse sorely needed the fifty cents, so Vanderlip turned tutor, teaching 
algebra to other fellows in the shop. 

His ambition spurring him on, the apprentice resolved that, no 
matter what the cost in pinching, scraping, and saving, he would go 
to college for a year. He went to the University of Illinois. Mrs. 
Scroggin, a typical Dickens character, boarded him for $2.25 a week 
—not, of course, in Delmonico style. His carefully kept cash book 
shows that Vanderlip's total expenditures for the student year reached 
$265! By working as a machinist on Saturdays, he earned $1.50 
each week; this paid more than half his board and lodging bill. 

Somewhat disappointed because the university could not give him 
a course in electricity (Cornell then having the only class of this kind 
in the country), Vanderlip, having successfully completed a course 
in mechanical engineering, returned home. He wrote to Edison for 
a job but received a stereotyped "nothing doing" reply — a disap- 
pointment for which Mr. Vanderlip has since chided the inventor. 


Back to the machine shop he had to go, at #1.35 a day. It was not 
long before the superintendent informed him that promotion to a 
foremanship was in store. Instead of feeling elated, Vanderlip there 
and then made up his mind that he would not rest until he became 
something more than a foreman in a machine shop. 

Shorthand lessons by mail, he concluded, might open a door from 
mechanical to mental occupation. The " teacher" sent him from 
Chicago a book and did nothing more except to correct in red ink 
the mistakes the machinist made. While attending to his lathe the 
gritty youth practised writing shorthand characters with chalk on 
flat pieces of iron, a picture that would have delighted the heart of 
old Samuel Smiles, of "Self Help" fame. His mother patiently read 
to him by the hour to enable him to take dictation, and he succeeded 
in mastering "the winged art." 

Depression came, and the machine shop shut down temporarily. 
But Vanderlip did not let the grass grow under his feet; he immediately 
applied for a job with the local daily paper — "Perhaps the poorest 
daily paper in America," Mr. Vanderlip has since called it. The 
office was at the back of an undertaker's; the owner was the editor, 
and Vanderlip was made city editor, reporter, bill collector, and office- 
boy. His pay was $6 a week — when he could collect it from sub- 
scribers or advertisers. He learned to write and also to set type. 
His salary was raised to $8, but collections did not always reach this 
figure and on those sad occasions he had to go without pay. 

Joseph French Johnson — now Dean of the School of Commerce, 
Accounts and Finance, New York University — an Aurora boy who 
had been educated at home and foreign universities, while on a visit 
to his native town, met Vanderlip, and, liking him, began to direct 
the young reporter's reading along economic lines. Later Mr. John- 
son gave him a job as stenographer with Scudder's Investigation 
Agency in Chicago, of which Mr. Johnson had charge. This organiza- 
tion supplied brokers, bankers, and others with analytical reports on 
corporations and other useful financial information. Here Mr. 
Vanderlip spent three or four very useful years, learning to analyze 
corporate accounts, mortgages, annual reports, and so on. Mr. 
Johnson having accepted the financial editorship of the Chicago 
Tribune, Mr. Vanderlip became his successor as active head of the 

Johnson next got Vanderlip a job on the Tribune as a reporter. 
In two weeks his salary was raised, within a month he was assisting 
the city editor, and before long was assistant financial editor and, 
later, financial editor. Here, at twenty-five, Vanderlip made his 

His training as an investigator enabled him to go to the roots of 


things financial. Charles T. Yerkes, the traction overlord, was 
plundering the city and Vanderlip ruthlessly exposed one nefarious 
deal after another until the whole city became aroused. Yerkes 
did Vanderlip the honour of calling him the worst enemy he had ever 

Corporate publicity, then virtually unknown, owes its growth in 
no small measure to the pioneer work of Vanderlip. No reporters 
were allowed to attend annual meetings. The enterprising financial 
editor, however, conceived an original and most effective idea. 

"If they won't let me in as a reporter they are bound to let me in 
as a stockholder," he said to himself, and forthwith he purchased one 
share of stock in every local corporation. The Tribune regularly 
came out with exclusive reports of these meetings and its "scoops" 
became the talk of Chicago. It took the other newspapers a whole 
year to ferret out how it was done. 

At eleven o'clock one night Vanderlip, who had by this time be- 
come part owner of the Economist, was called out of bed and told to 
hasten to the home of Phil. Armour. Arriving there on the run, he 
found the whole of financial Chicago, the governors of the Stock 
Exchange, the presidents of all the banks and other institutions, the 
Moore Brothers, Yerkes, and other notables waiting to receive him. 

The astonished financial writer was told that Moore Brothers had 
failed, that the Diamond Match Company had gone under, that the 
Stock Exchange would be closed next morning, and that a financial 
cataclysm threatened Chicago. They wanted Vanderlip to handle 
the story. 

"All right," he replied, "I'll do it on one condition: that every man 
here pledges himself not to answer one question from any newspaper 
man to-night." They agreed. 

Rushing to the Tribune office, Vanderlip told the city editor to 
call up the editors of all the morning papers telling them that Van- 
derlip had an exclusive story of transcendent importance but would 
give it only on the strictest understanding that it be printed exactly 
as Vanderlip wrote it and that he be allowed to edit the headlines. 

Never had such a proposition been made to the newspapers. How- 
ever, all but one paper sent responsible men to get the news. Van- 
derlip lined them up and pledged them to the conditions he laid down. 
Later he drove from office to office and censored the headlines. 

"It was the poorest newspaper story I ever wrote," Mr. Vanderlip 
admitted afterward. "The facts were told, but not in a way the 
newspapers would have liked to tell them. The fact that the Stock 
Exchange would not open next morning was mentioned in an obscure 
paragraph near the end of the story. But it saved Chicago much 
unnecessary demoralization and disaster." 


When the National Bank of Illinois failed, Vanderlip was again 
called upon to break the news. 

Hard work, incessant study, and little or no recreation characterized 
Vanderlip's life at this stage. Before starting his day's newspaper 
work, at 10:30, he attended morning classes in economics, financial 
history, etc., at the University of Chicago. At thirty he was still 
going to school! Besides, he had to do much outside work to eke 
out his salary, as the burden of supporting the household was on his 
shoulders — his grandmother, his mother, two aunts, and little brother 
and sister were largely dependent upon his efforts. 

When Lyman J. Gage was appointed Secretary of the Treasury it 
was not surprising that he wanted the brilliant and resourceful young 
financial authority to accompany him. He went as Mr. Gage's pri- 
vate secretary, but so valuable did he make himself that in a few 
months he was elevated to the position of Assistant Secretary of the 
Treasury. Mr. Gage was so disgusted with the torrent of applica- 
tions that poured in upon him by mail and by a constant stream of 
political wirepullers that he turned the handling of the whole ap- 
pointment division over to a committee headed by Mr. Vanderlip. 
Before he had time to find his feet in Washington the ex-reporter 
found himself in charge of the 5,000 employees forming the Treasury 
force. Instead of the responsibilities staggering him, he enjoyed 
the experience. A writer described the Vanderlip of that day as 
"generous, thoughtful of others, open-minded, strong-willed, unpre- 
tentious, just, and big-hearted. ,, He was, moreover, good-natured, 
enthusiastic, and optimistic. 

It was the generalship he displayed in handling the #200,000,000 
Spanish War loan in 1898 that gave Vanderlip a chance to win his 
spurs. He had to organize a special clerical staff and so efficiently 
did he select and train the men and systematize the statistical work 
that, although the subscriptions aggregated $1,400,000,000 and 
numbered 320,000, he was able to announce in five and one-half 
hours after the subscription closed within $400 of where the line 
would be drawn between those who would get all the bonds they 
subscribed for and those who would get nothing. Over 25,000 
envelopes were addressed in the one day and every unsuccessful 
bidder received by next morning's mail the check with which he had 
accompanied his bid. 

Vanderlip's feat did not pass unnoticed by the nation's financiers. 
James Stillman, the alert head of the National City Bank, told Mr. 
Gage that he would like to get Vanderlip as soon as he was finished 
at Washington. Mr. Gage and his aide assumed that a private secre- 
taryship was in Mr. Stillman's mind. But a year later Mr. Stillman 
informed Vanderlip a vice-presidency of the bank awaited him — a 


vice-presidency of the greatest bank in the country for a newspaper 
writer who had never been behind a bank window a day in his life! 

The stiffest test in Vanderlip's whole career came when he was in- 
stalled at the City Bank. Mr. Stillman set him down at an empty 
desk on the overcrowded officers' platform in the old bank building. 
He was given nothing to do the first day. The second day also 
brought no duties. The third was equally barren. The fourth 
likewise found him absolutely idle. 

Here he was, drawing a large salary and not earning a penny of* 
it. He must do something. 

In his depression and desolation his thoughts turned to Washington. 

An idea flashed into his mind. 

He would make the National City Bank the representative of other 
banks throughout the country in Government bond transactions. 

Vanderlip knew more about Government bonds than any other 
man living. He knew other banks would like to be relieved of all 
the red tape incidental to buying and putting up bonds to cover circu- 
lation, depositing reserves to cover note issues, etc., etc. He began 
to dictate a circular letter to be sent broadcast to the country's 
4,000 national banks. 

His plan becoming known, he was solemnly informed that it was 
one of the proudest traditions of the National City Bank that it had 
never solicited new business. 

"If you never went after new business before, it is time you started 
now," he replied. He resumed the dictating of his circular — and 
the City Bank became the bank for other banks and built up the 
greatest bond business in the whole country. 

Vanderlip's reward came in the form of elevation to the presidency 
eight years later. 

When Mr. Vanderlip came to the City Bank, in 1901, its capital 
was only #10,000,000 and its deposits not far above $150,000,000; 
but in the following year the capital was increased to $25,000,000, 
while deposits had risen to over $240,000,000 when Mr. Vanderlip 
became president, in January, 1909. More recently deposits ex- 
ceeded $600,000,000, a figure not approached by any other American 
institution. These deposits equal one-seventh of all the money in 
circulation in the United States! 

The moment the Federal Reserve Act was passed, permitting 
branch banking, the City Bank seized the wider opportunities thus 
opened up. Soon the bank had branches in Petrograd, Genoa, 
Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Santos, Bahia, Valparaiso, 
Montevideo, Havana and Santiago, Cuba. Several other branches 
are contemplated, while surveys are being made in almost every civil- 
ized country with a view to dotting the world with American banks. 


To buttress this plan, control of the International Banking Corpora- 
tion was acquired with its branches in the Far East and elsewhere. 

Every robust American would like to see the United States become 
the greatest financial and commercial nation on earth. Mr. Vander- 
lip succeeded, in 191 5, in bringing together the most influential 
capitalistic interests in the land for the formation of the American 
International Corporation as an instrument to aid in achieving this 
end. Behind this $50,000,000 corporation stand the resources and 
the brains not only of the City Bank, but also of the Rockefellers, 
Kuhn, Loeb & Co., and other influential houses and individuals. 

Ships are a nation's shoes. Hence the first step of the American 
International was to acquire an interest in International Mercantile 
Marine, the United Fruit Company, with its fleet of ninety steamers, 
the Pacific Mail, shipyards, etc. Plans for extending America's 
financial and commercial ramifications abroad and for strengthening 
home facilities are being perfected by the new enterprise on a scale 
transcending anything America has ever known. 

One of Mr. Vanderlip's ambitions is to make the City Bank the 
Alma Mater of the coming generation of bankers. A beginning has 
been made by bringing the most promising students from the leading 
universities for a year's course in the City Bank. On finishing, the 
students are given positions in the foreign branches or the head office 
of the bank. Classes are also held for all the boys and youths in the 
bank. Indeed, the City Bank is almost as much university as bank. 

Money-making has not monopolized this banker's attention. He 
did not wait until he had millions before he began to do things for 

His belief that every citizen should give the best that is in him to 
the state led him to accept the presidency of Letchworth Village at 
the time it was proposed by the legislature to isolate the feeble- 
minded and epileptic. He immediately engaged a secretary experi- 
enced in philanthropy — Miss Bruere, sister of ex-Chamberlain 
Bruere of New York City — to give her time and best judgment to the 
establishment of a model state home of this type. 

Recognition of Mr. Vanderlip's unselfish services has come from 
the educational, the commercial, and the financial world. He is a trus- 
tee of the Carnegie Foundation and of the New York University, a life 
trustee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and possesses 
several honorary degrees from universities. The commercial com- 
munity bestowed on him the chairmanship of the Finance Committee 
of the Chamber of Commerce. The bankers elected him president 
of the New York Clearing House. He has been frequently selected 
by New York mayors to serve on important committees. His 
pioneer and persistent work to secure for the United States currency 


reform, and his masterl}/- activities in grappling with the financial 
crises of 1907 and 1914, won him the thanks of the whole financial 

Even more valuable to the country were Mr. Vanderlip's day-and- 
night labours to insure the successful flotation of the #2,000,000,000 
Liberty Loan. It is no secret that at one stage the offering threatened 
to fall flat. After the initial hurrah, when Washington was carried 
away by the first inrush of subscriptions and gave out the impression 
that the loan was certain to be over-subscribed forthwith, a relapse 
occurred. The whole country became apathetic. Then New York's 
leading financiers entered the field and performed miracles. They 
not only aroused the financial community to the enormity of the task 
on hand, but by their example, by the campaign they instituted, by 
the plans they devised, by the literature they prepared, by the posters 
they introduced, by the vim and force and momentum they worked 
up they set a pace and a precedent for other cities and districts. 
But for this work the result of the loan might have been less gratifying. 

Leadership in the campaign was really taken by Mr. Vanderlip. 
He travelled hither and thither delivering inspiring, patriotic speeches 
to country bankers and others; he directed the whole publicity 
"drive"; he supplied the newspaper representatives with facts and 
ideas from day to day — and often late at night; and, in short, he 
slaved even harder than he did when he handled the flotation of 
the Spanish War loan in his Treasury days. Not many nights during 
the whole campaign did he find opportunity to see his family. Signal 
recognition of his services came later. When the second loan was 
announced Mr. Vanderlip was called to Washington to direct the 
popular distribution and he at once took up abode there. 

As an author Mr. Vanderlip ranks high. His book "Business and 
Education," which includes the much-translated series of articles on 
"The Commercial Invasion of Europe," is still in demand. No 
financier's speeches arouse more interest throughout the land — this 
is not solely because of his position, but because of his reputation 
for foresight in discerning great financial and commercial movements 
and trends. 

Perhaps the greatest single factor in Mr. Vanderlip's phenomenal 
success in later years has been his extraordinary ability to inspire 
and develop the men serving with him and under him. 

His love of the country still clings so strongly to Mr. Vanderlip 
that he has no city house. His home life is spent at Scarborough amid 
ideal domestic as well as ideal scenic surroundings. Mrs. Vanderlip 
shares his interest in educational and philanthropic activities. They 
have six children. 


PICTURE a party of the nation's greatest bankers stealing 
out of New York on a private railroad car, hieing hundreds 
of miles south to an island deserted by all but a few servants, and 
living there a full week under such rigid secrecy that the name of 
not one of them was once mentioned lest the servitors learn